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    A Japanese journalist looks at a video of the hostages prior to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe press conference in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015

    Japan Strives to Contact IS Via E-Mail as Time Runs Out for Hostages

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    Japanese media reports said earlier the e-mail address was provided by a hostage's wife who received a message from IS back in November 2014.

    TOKYO, January 22 (Sputnik) – Japanese authorities have sent an e-mail to Islamic State (IS) militants in a last-ditch attempt to build a negotiating channel with the captors of two Japanese hostages as the deadline to pay a ransom to secure their release looms closer, Japan's Kyodo news agency said Thursday.

    Japanese media reports said earlier the e-mail address was provided by a hostage's wife who received a message from IS back in November 2014, saying they were holding her husband captive.

    The two hostages held by IS fighters at an unknown location are Haruna Yukawa, the founder of a private security firm, and Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist, who were abducted in Syria last year. They first appeared in video footage that was posted on the Internet by IS.

    According to media reports, Goto's wife informed the government about her husband's disappearance in Syria in October, long before the video was made public. Islamists did not ask for a ransom until January when they sent a letter to the woman demanding some $20 million.

    Government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga, told reporters they had been exploring the possibility of contacting the militants but had been unable to so far.

    On Tuesday, Islamists threatened to execute the hostages in three days' time, unless Japan pays them a ransom of $200 million. This sum matches the amount of money promised by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a nonlethal aid package to countries fighting the IS group.

    Reports transpired in the Japanese media on Thursday that Abe had said Japan would not pay ransoms to terrorists, in a phone conversation with UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Abe also said earlier his country would not give up its plans to assist the fight against IS.


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