Japan negotiating for release of Islamic State captives, unaware of their fate

Japan is making every effort to secure the release of two of its citizens by Islamic State militants as a ransom deadline nears, but does not know their current condition, the top government spokesman said on Friday.

Reuters| Last Updated: Jan 23, 2015, 10:20 AM IST

Tokyo: Japan is making every effort to secure the release of two of its citizens by Islamic State militants as a ransom deadline nears, but does not know their current condition, the top government spokesman said on Friday.

Japan considers 2:50 p.m. local time (0550 GMT) on Friday to be the deadline for Islamic State`s demand that Tokyo pay $200 million for the release of journalist Kenji Goto and troubled loner Haruna Yukawa.

"The government is continuing to work in unison to gather information and make every efforts for their release," Suga told a regular news conference. "We are in an extremely severe situation," Suga said. 

Asked if Tokyo would pay the ransom, he reiterated that "There is no change to our stance that we will not give in to terrorism and will contribute to the international response to terrorism. As we make utmost efforts for their swift release, we are negotiating through all available channels."

He would not comment on any specific steps Japan is taking.