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A video purported to have been made by Islamic State militants showing a man dressed in black standing over two Japanese hostages has been released online. The video addresses both the Japanese government and Japanese public directly and demands a ransom of US$200 million, to be paid in less than 72 hours.

In the video, which is eerily similar to those released by Islamic militant group Isis late last year, a man dressed in black and brandishing a large knife stands between two men of Japanese origin dressed in orange outfits akin to those worn by prisoners in US jails. Shared online earlier today, the video demands that the Japanese government pay $200 million to secure the freedom of the men pictured, neither of whom speak during its runtime.

The man in black, who speaks with a British accent, began by addressing the prime minister of Japan directly.

“Although you are more than 8,500 kilometres away from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade,” he says, seemingly referring to the Japanese government’s recent decision to provide millions of dollars of non-military aid to those fighting against Isis.

“You have proudly donated 100 million to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims. So the life of this Japanese citizen,” the masked man declares, pointing to the Japanese man kneeling on the ground to his right [note: image appears to have been flipped] with his knife, “will cost you 100 million.”

The masked man then went on to demand a second 100 million dollars for the hostage on his left, before turning his attention to the Japanese public themselves:

“Just as how your government has made a foolish decision to pay 200 million to fight the Islamic State, 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,” he adds menacingly, “this knife will become your nightmare.”

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Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe later responded to the video at an emergency press conference.

“They have released a video which threatens to kill Japanese citizens,” he said, standing on a platform beside the Japanese national flag. “It is unforgivable, and I feel strong resentment against this threat to human life. I strongly demand that the group does not harm the two Japanese and releases them immediately.”

Prime Minister Abe continued with his hardline response to the threat that the two Japanese nationals would be executed, stating that “Japan will not change [its] policy” of helping to stabilise the regions currently under threat from extremist groups.

BBC News reports that Yoshihide Suga, one of Japan’s top government spokesmen, later said that “the utmost effort” would be made to ensure the release of the two Japanese men.

Source: YouTube, BBC News
Screenshots via YouTube