Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani says his country plans to strengthen security measures for its peacekeepers abroad after a video appeared online capturing the execution of Japanese freelance reporter Kenji Goto who had been held hostage by Islamic State (IS) extremists, Kyodo news agency reports.
According to Kyodo, Nakatani has ordered to provide full security to Japan’s self-defense forces stationed abroad, including within the framework of UN peacekeeping operations.
Earlier, Kyodo quoted Nakatani as saying that he had no information refuting reports that Goto had been killed. The reports were based on a new video that had been released online. The video showed Goto kneeling in front of a masked man armed with a knife.
On January 24, IS released a video depicting Kenji Goto holding an image of what appeared to be the beheaded body of another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa. Earlier, IS militants demanded a ransom of $200 million for the release of both Japanese captives.
On Tuesday, a voice in another IS video, claiming to be Kenji Goto, warned that he and Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot Muath Kasaesbeh would be killed within 24 hours if they were not exchanged for Sajida Rishawi, a failed Iraqi suicide bomber facing the death sentence in Jordan.
On Wednesday, a Jordanian government spokesperson said that the country was ready to release the Iraqi bomber in exchange for Kasaesbeh.
On Thursday, Jordan’s Information Minister said the country had demanded IS to prove that Kasaesbeh was still alive, but received no response from the militants.
IS, a radical Sunni group also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has captured vast areas in Iraq and Syria. It has become known for a number of atrocities, such as public crucifixions and beheadings of captured prisoners, including European journalists.