The Islamic State militia threatened to kill two Japanese hostages unless 200 million dollars in ransom is paid within 72 hours, the Japanese government said on Tuesday.
“The government is trying to verify the authenticity of the video,” the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said.
According to the government, it is the first time the militant group has threatened Japanese captives; meanwhile they have beheaded other foreign hostages.
Reports say Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has cancelled part of his trip to Middle East to deal with the crisis.
The online video that bore the logo of Islamic State’s al-Furqan media arm showed two hostages in orange jumpsuits that the militant group identified as Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yukawa.
“To the prime minister of Japan, although you are more than 8,500 kilometres away from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade.
“You have proudly donated 100 million dollars to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims,” the knife-wielding militant said in the video.
The video followed the format of similar videos issued by the group showing U.S. and British hostages who were later killed.
In his address to the Japanese, he added “you now have 72 hours to pressure your government in making a wise decision by paying the 200 million to save the lives of your citizens.
“Otherwise, this knife will become your nightmare”.
Goto, a freelance journalist, went to Syria in 2014 to cover the war and was kidnapped near Aleppo.
Report says Yukawa, who works for a private security company, was reportedly captured in Aleppo in August by the Islamic State when he was traveling with another group of rebel fighters.