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Japan working to gain IS hostage's release, analyzing video

Updated: 2015-01-26 13:20
Japan working to gain IS hostage's release, analyzing video

A protester holds up an iPad with a message written in support for Kenji Goto, a Japanese national held captive by Islamic State miliants, during a demonstration in front of the Prime Minister's Official residence in Tokyo, January 25, 2015.[Photo/Agencies]

Toshiko Okada, 68, who used to run an English school in a Tokyo suburb, said she was stunned by the news and praying for the hostages' lives.

"I feel Abe's misguided shallow acts have triggered this ransom demand," she said. "Maybe he should be attending to problems at home."

Abe has pushed to expand the role for Japan's troops _ one that has remained strictly confined to self-defense under the pacifist constitution adopted after the nation's defeat in World War II.

While on a visit to the Middle East earlier this month, Abe announced $200 million in humanitarian aid to the nations fighting the militants. In an earlier video showing both Goto and Yukawa, the Islamic State group addressed Abe, demanding the same amount of money as ransom for the two hostages.

The United Nations Security Council issued a statement that "deplored the apparent murder" of Yukawa, declaring that the Islamic State group "must be defeated and that the intolerance, violence and hatred it espouses must be stamped out."

President Barack Obama condemned what he called "the brutal murder" of Yukawa, and called Abe to express condolences. His statement didn't say how the US knew Yukawa was dead.

French President Francois Hollande also condemned the killing and praised Japan's "determined engagement in the fight against international terrorism."

Late Sunday, about 100 protesters, some of them holding placards that read, "I'm Kenji" and "Free Goto," demonstrated outside the prime minister's residence, demanding Abe save Goto.

Demonstrator Kenji Kunitomi, 66, blamed Abe as bringing the hostage crisis on himself.

"This happened when Prime Minister Abe was visiting Israel," he said. "I think there's a side to this, where they may have taken it as a form of provocation, possibly a big one."

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