On Tuesday, the IS released a video demanding $200 million in ransom within 72 hours for the two Japanese hostages. Freelance journalist Kenji Goto was captured last year and Haruna Yukawa was reportedly kidnapped by the IS while training with the militants.
The demanded ransom is equivalent to the amount recently pledged by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to countries fighting the IS as nonmilitary support, particularly as humanitarian aid for displaced persons in Syria and Iraq.
Meanwhile, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said the country’s government has made attempts to establish communication with the extremist militant group, and continues "to do what we have to do for them to be released as early as possible," news agency Kyodo reported.
The IS, known for its brutality, began fighting the Syrian government in 2012, later expanding its operations to Iraq. The extremist group has declared a caliphate in the areas it controls in both countries.