World Bulletin / News Desk
Tokyo's Muslims have gathered together at the Friday prayers to pray for the release of Japanese ISIL hostage, Kenji Goto.
An audio message purportedly from Japanese journalist Kenji Goto also captured by the insurgents said the pilot would be killed unless Jordan freed Sajida al-Rishawi, who is on death row for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people in Amman.
Japan will ask Jordan to beef up protection of its diplomats in that country and Tokyo is making utmost efforts to secure the release of a Japanese journalist held by Islamic State militants, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Friday.
Jordan said on Thursday it was still holding an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber as a deadline passed for her release set by Islamic State militants who threatened to kill a Jordanian pilot unless she was handed over by sunset. Kishida said on Friday he had no major developments to report.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed the country’s foreign minister Friday "to continue to stay on guard" after the expiration of the latest deadline allegedly set by ISIL.
A Jordanian government spokesperson had told state television the day before that the country was ready to release Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi national sentenced to death in 2005 following a spate of fatal hotel bombings, in order to ensure the safety of First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasba.
Abe told a parliament session Friday that the government was seeking cooperation with Jordan and analyzing information.
"All efforts are being made to secure the release of Mr. Kenji Goto," the Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters after meeting with Abe at his office that he had been instructed "to continue to stay on guard and deal" with the hostage crisis.
Meanwhile, Goto’s wife Rinko has made her first public statement, saying “I beg the Jordanian andJapanese Government to understand that the fates of both men are in their hands.”
In a statement released by Rory Peck Trust, a London-based organization supporting freelance journalists, Rinko says, "I fear that this is the last chance for my husband and we now have only a few hours left to secure his release and the life of [al-Kasasba]."
Rinko, who has two daughters with Goto including an infant born a few weeks before he left for Syria, explains that her husband’s captors had recently sent her a message with the demand that she publicize it “otherwise Kenji will be next!”
The message reportedly reiterated that al-Rishawi be brought to Turkey’s border at sunset Thursday.
ISIL had earlier emailed her a video showing Goto holding a picture of what appeared to be the beheaded body of another Japanese hostage, businessman Haruna Yukawa.
In the video released Saturday, a voice purportedly belonging to Goto says Yukawa was "slaughtered in the land of the Islamic Caliphate," adding that his captors had dropped their demand that Tokyo pay a $200 million ransom.
Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary, told a press conference that the government has been in close contact with Goto's wife.
Suga would not comment on Tokyo's stance about recent statements from Amman that al-Rishawi remains in Jordan as the country seeks guarantees from ISIL that al-Kasasba was still alive before announcing a prisoner swap.
Jordan's parliament, meanwhile, has said that ISIL was not serious about making a prisoner swap.
In a statement Thursday, Jordan's parliament asserted that ISIL "had bad intentions" regarding the proposed swap, saying the group “has not proposed any serious deal for releasing him [al-Kasasba]."
On Jan. 20, ISIL posted its first video of Goto and Yukawa, threatening to kill them within 72 hours unless Japan paid a $200 million ransom – the demand later being dropped. The demands came after Abe’s recent Middle East tour, during which he pledged $200 million in non-military aid to countries affected by the international campaign against ISIL.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Ocak 2015, 10:25