Japan agonizes over ways to free Islamic State hostages

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Japan agonizes over ways to free Islamic State hostages
The Washington Post and BBC are both reporting the identity of Jihadi John, arguably the world's most wanted man, is a Londoner named Mohammed Emwazi.
ED NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - This image made from a video released by Islamic State militants on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, purports to show a militant standing next to Japanese journalist Kenji Goto before his beheading by the militant group. Goto was captured in October 2014, after he traveled to Syria to try to win the release of Haruna Yukawa. (AP Photo)
UPDATE: #JihadiJohn is West London computing graduate http://t.co/TH6ZPpl1b3 http://t.co/kTMsKJbReK
The identity of Jihadi John has been known to intelligence services since last summer: http://t.co/6puEOxZwHS http://t.co/MusulUPq8g
Jihadi John identified: Everything we know about Mohammed Emwazi so far http://t.co/GLkIJAMN9o http://t.co/Q87QV9rnNJ
Jihadi John is identified as former university student from respectable London family http://t.co/bShmmFfZHr http://t.co/UonzOXWmky
Watch: Who is Jihadi John? Our 60 second explainer: http://t.co/c4EW8WmWfi http://t.co/cro1x1FIFe
Japan is struggling to contact ISIS extremists who are holding two hostages. The ISIS extremists are holding the hostages ahead of a deadline for their execution.
The murder of a Japanese hostage by IS has been condemned internationally as a despicable act of terror. The one minute video of Kenji Goto's death emerged online last night and today officials have confirmed they believe it is genuine. Sky's Mark Stone reports.
People walk past a big screen reporting that a Japanese hostage was killed by the Islamic State in Tokyo on February 1, 2015. Japan said it was 'outraged' after the Islamic State group released a video purportedly showing the beheading of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk by a screen showing TV news reports of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, held by the Islamic State group, in Tokyo Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015. The fates of the Japanese journalist and a Jordanian military pilot were still unknown Saturday after the latest purported deadline for a possible prisoner swap lapsed with no further messages from the Islamic State group holding them captive. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A passerby is silhouetted against a large TV screen broadcasting a news program Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Tokyo reporting on a video posted on YouTube by jihadists on Tuesday, Jan. 27, that purports to show a still photo of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto holding what appears to be a photo of Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh. Goto's mother appealed publicly to Japan's leader to save her son after his captors purportedly issued what they said was a final death threat. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A protester holds a sign stating "I am Kenji" during a rally outside the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Junko Ishido, the mother of Kenji Goto, the Japanese freelance journalist being held hostage by Islamic State group extremists, appealed publicly to Japan's leader to save her son Wednesday after his captors purportedly issued what they said was a final death threat. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
The mother of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto is grieving her son's apparent beheading by Islamic State.
Japanese women react as they read extra newspapers in Tokyo reporting about an online video that purported to show an Islamic State group militant beheading Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, Sunday morning, Feb. 1, 2015. Japan condemned with outrage and horror on Sunday after the video was posted on militant websites late Saturday Middle East time. The headline reads: "A video on killing of Goto." (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Junko Ishido (R) mother of Kenji Goto, speaks to reporters while her husband Yukio Ishido (L) stands beside her at their home in Tokyo on February 1, 2015. Japan said it was 'outraged' after the Islamic State group released a video purportedly showing the beheading of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
Junko Ishido (C) mother of Kenji Goto, speaks to reporters while her husband Yukio Ishido (L) stands beside her at their home in Tokyo on February 1, 2015. Japan said it was 'outraged' after the Islamic State group released a video purportedly showing the beheading of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
Junko Ishido, center, mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto who was taken hostage by the Islamic State group, speaks during a press conference at her home in Tokyo, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Junko Ishido, the mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, 47, who is being held hostage by the Islamic State group, speaks to the media during a press conference as their photo when Goto was 19 is displayed at her home in Koganei on the outskirts of Tokyo Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. Jordan on Thursday demanded proof from Islamic State militants that a Jordanian pilot they are holding is still alive, despite purported threats by the group to kill the airman at sunset unless an al-Qaida prisoner is freed from death row in Jordan. The militants' deadline passed without word on the fate of the pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, and a fellow hostage, Goto. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Junko Ishido, left, mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto who was taken hostage by the Islamic State group, speaks during a press conference at her home in Tokyo, Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. A young Jordanian fighter pilot, a female al-Qaida recruit who tried to blow up a hotel ballroom in Amman and a veteran Japanese war correspondent are at the center of a life-and-death standoff with the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
A protester holds a sign stating "I am Kenji" during a rally outside the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Junko Ishido, the mother of Kenji Goto, the Japanese freelance journalist being held hostage by Islamic State group extremists, appealed publicly to Japan's leader to save her son Wednesday after his captors purportedly issued what they said was a final death threat. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Protesters chant "Free Goto" during a demonstration in front of the Prime Minister's Official residence in Tokyo, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. The plight of freelance journalist Kenji Goto, taken captive by Islamic State group militants, has gripped Japan, and the people’s hopes for his safety are now on Facebook with a simple, unifying plea: “I am Kenji.” As of Tuesday, the “I am Kenji” Facebook page had more than 25,000 “likes” and is continuing to grow. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A man comforts the wife of Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who is held by the Islamic State group militants, during a protest in front of the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Jordan on Wednesday offered a precedent-setting prisoner swap to the Islamic State group in a desperate attempt to save a Jordanian air force pilot the militants purportedly threatened to kill, along with a Japanese hostage. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
A man comforts the wife, right, of Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who is held by the Islamic State group militants, during a protest in front of the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Jordan on Wednesday offered a precedent-setting prisoner swap to the Islamic State group in a desperate attempt to save a Jordanian air force pilot the militants purportedly threatened to kill, along with a Japanese hostage. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Safi al-Kaseasbeh, left, father of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who is held by Islamic State group militants, attends a protest in front of the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Jordan on Wednesday offered a precedent-setting prisoner swap to the Islamic State group in a desperate attempt to save a Jordanian air force pilot the militants purportedly threatened to kill, along with a Japanese hostage. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
FILE - This Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014 file image posted by the Raqqa Media Center, which monitors events in territory controlled by Islamic State militants with the permission of the extremist group, shows militants with a captured pilot, Mu'ath Al-Kaseasbeh, wearing a white shirt, in Raqqa, Syria. The 26-year old Jordanian pilot is the first foreign military pilot to fall into the Islamic State group's hands since an international coalition began its aerial campaign against the group in September. He was carrying out air strikes against the militants when his F-16 went down near the Islamic State group’s de facto capital of Raqqa on Dec. 24. His captors have not made any public demands for his release. (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center, File)
Safi al-Kaseasbeh, father of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, who is held by Islamic State group militants, looks at a computer in Amman, hours after militants posted a video purporting to show a Japanese hostage holding the pilot's picture with a message that both hostages would be killed within 24 hours. Jordan is willing to swap an Iraqi woman prisoner involved in deadly 2005 hotel bombings for a Jordanian pilot captured in December by extremists from the Islamic State group, a government spokesman said Wednesday.(AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
A relative of captured Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, 26, pauses by his photo on the wall of his family's home, in Karak, South of Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Jan 3, 2015. Islamic State fighters took al-Kaseasbeh prisoner after his F-16 fighter jet crashed near the extremists' de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria. The father of the pilot appealed Saturday to the militants to treat his son well and with respect. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Junko Ishido, the mother of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto held by Islamic State group, reacts during a press conference in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Ishido appealed publicly Wednesday to Japan's leader to save her son after his captors issued what they said was a final death threat. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Junko Ishido, left, mother of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto held by Islamic State group, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Ishido appealed publicly Wednesday to Japan's leader to save her son after his captors issued what they said was a final death threat. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto held by Islamic State group, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Ishido appealed publicly Wednesday to Japan's leader to save her son after his captors issued what they said was a final death threat. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Junko Ishido, left, mother of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto held by Islamic State group, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Ishido appealed publicly Wednesday to Japan's leader to save her son after his captors issued what they said was a final death threat. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto held by Islamic State group, reacts during a press conference in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Ishido appealed publicly Wednesday to Japan's leader to save her son after his captors issued what they said was a final death threat. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Relatives of captured Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh meet with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, center left, and other Christian clergymen during a visit to the al-Kaseasbeh family to show their support and solidarity, in Karak, Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. Al-Kaseasbeh, a Muslim, was carrying out airstrikes against the militant Islamic State group when he was captured on Dec. 24 after his F-16 fighter jet crashed near the extremists' de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Safi Yousef al-Kaseasbeh, center right, the father of Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, 26, walks past well-wishers during a gathering of the al-Kaseasbeh family, in Karak, south of Amman, Jordan, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, and other Christian clergymen visited the al-Kaseasbeh family to show their support and solidarity. The younger al-Kaseasbeh, a Muslim, was captured by the Islamic State group on Dec. 24 after his F-16 fighter jet crashed near the extremists' de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Masked people shout slogans to call for the freedom of Jordanian pilot Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, held by the Islamic State group in the Syrian city of Raqqa, as police officers try to control the protest after prayers in downtown Amman, Jordan, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. The father of the pilot pleaded for his son's release on Thursday, asking the group to treat him well in captivity as a fellow Muslim. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
AMMAN, JORDAN - JANUARY 17: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and his wife Akie arrive at the Alia International Airport for an official visit in Amman, Jordan on January 17, 2015. (Photo by Shadi Nsoor/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the opening session at the lower house of Parliament in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
In this Jan. 25, 2015 photo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pauses as he speaks after signing a book of condolence for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Shoichi Yukawa, father of Haruna Yukawa, one of two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State group, speaks during an interview at his home in Chiba, near Tokyo Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Japanese officials are working to verifying a new message purported to be from the Islamic State group holding the hostages. The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by the Islamic State group, which now holds a third of both Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Asahi Shimbun, Yasuhiro Sugimoto, Pool)
Shoichi Yukawa, father of Haruna Yukawa, one of two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State group, speaks during an interview at his house in Chiba, near Tokyo Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Japanese officials are working to verifying a new message purported to be from the Islamic State group holding the hostages. The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by the Islamic State group, which now holds a third of both Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Asahi Shimbun, YasuhiroSugimoto, Pool)
Shoichi Yukawa, center, father of Haruna Yukawa, one of two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State group, speaks during an interview at his house in Chiba, near Tokyo Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Japanese officials are working to verifying a new message purported to be from the Islamic State group holding the hostages. The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by the Islamic State group, which now holds a third of both Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Asahi Shimbun, Yasuhiro Sugimoto, Pool)
Shoichi Yukawa, father of Haruna Yukawa, one of two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State group, speaks during an interview at his house in Chiba, near Tokyo Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Japanese officials are working to verifying a new message purported to be from the Islamic State group holding the hostages. The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by the Islamic State group, which now holds a third of both Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Asahi Shimbun, YasuhiroSugimoto, Pool)
Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese journalist Keni Goto taken hostage by Islamic State, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. Goto's mother said her son went to Syria to try to secure a friend's release, corroborating comments by others who said he was trying to rescue Yukawa, who was taken hostage earlier. The deadline for paying ransom for two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State group was fast approaching early Friday with no signs of a breakthrough. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese journalist Keni Goto taken hostage by Islamic State, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. Goto's mother said her son went to Syria to try to secure a friend's release, corroborating comments by others who said he was trying to rescue Yukawa, who was taken hostage earlier. The deadline for paying ransom for two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State group was fast approaching early Friday with no signs of a breakthrough. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Junko Ishido, the mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto who was taken hostage by the Islamic State group, arrives for a press conference in Tokyo Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. Militants affiliated with the Islamic State group have posted an online warning that the "countdown has begun" for the group to kill a pair of Japanese hostages. "Time is running out. Please, Japanese government, save my son’s life," said Ishido. "My son is not an enemy of the Islamic State," she said in a tearful appearance in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Junko Ishido, mother of Kenji Goto, one of two Japanese men being held by Islamist militants, gestures as she answers questions during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on January 23, 2015. Ishido pleaded for her son's release and urged Tokyo to pay a 200 million USD ransom hours before a deadline expires. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Junko Ishido, mother of Kenji Goto, one of two Japanese men being held by Islamist militants, answers questions during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on January 23, 2015. Ishido pleaded for her son's release and urged Tokyo to pay a 200 million USD ransom hours before a deadline expires. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Junko Ishido, mother of Kenji Goto, one of two Japanese men being held by Islamist militants, is surrounded by photographers at the beginning of a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on January 23, 2015. Ishido pleaded for her son's release and urged Tokyo to pay a 200 million USD ransom hours before a deadline expires. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Junko Ishido, the mother of one of two Japanese hostages held by Islamic State, pleads for help in Tokyo. She speaks at a news conference to appeal for journalist Kenji Goto's release. (Video: AP)
Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese journalist Keni Goto taken hostage by Islamic State, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. With time running short, the mother of one of the hostages, 47-year-old journalist Kenji Goto, appealed for understanding and urged the government to help him. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Kosuke Tsuneoka, a Japanese freelance journalist, prepares to answer questions about the two hostages held by the Islamic State group, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Tsuneoka, who was held hostage in Afghanistan in 2010, also offered to reach out to the Islamic State group, with Ko Nakata, an expert on Islamic law, to try to save the hostages. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Ko Nakata, an expert on Islamic law, prepares to attend a news conference on two hostages held by the Islamic State group, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Nakata told reporters he was able to reach the Islamic State. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Ko Nakata, an expert on Islamic law, reads a message to hostage takers during a press conference on two hostages held by the Islamic State group, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Nakata told reporters he was able to reach the Islamic State. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
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. The Islamic State group threatened to kill two Japanese hostages Tuesday unless they receive $200 million in 72 hours, directly demanding the ransom from Japan's premier during his visit to the Middle East. Abe vowed to save the men, saying: "Their lives are the top priority." (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has demanded that ISIS release the two Japanese citizens they are holding hostage and has pledged to put people's lives as a top priority.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reacts at a meeting on two Japanese hostages taken by the Islamic State group, at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. Japan is doing all it can to free two hostages the Islamic State group is threatening to kill within 72 hours, Abe said Wednesday, vowing never to give in to terrorism. Abe returned to Tokyo from a six-day Middle East tour slightly ahead of schedule and convened a Cabinet meeting soon after. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, Pool)
A shopper chats with a sales clerk with a television broadcasting a news about detained two Japanese in the background, at an electronics store in Tokyo, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. The release of an online video Tuesday purporting to show an Islamic State figure demanding $200 million in ransom for two Japanese hostages ambushed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he was wrapping up a six-day tour of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Jordan's King Abdullah II, right) meets, Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama, 3drd left, in Amman Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. Nakayama arrived in Jordan on Tuesday as negotiations continued to free two Japanese hostages captured by the Islamic state militants. (AP Photo/Petra News Agency)
Kosuke Tsuneoka, a Japanese freelance journalist, speaks about the two hostages held by the Islamic State group, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Tsuneoka, who was held hostage in Afghanistan in 2010, also offered to reach out to the Islamic State, with Ko Nakata, an expert on Islamic law, to try to save the hostages. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Kosuke Tsuneoka, a Japanese freelance journalist, looks on before a news conference about two Japanese hostages being held by the Islamic State group, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Tsuneoka, who was held hostage in Afghanistan in 2010, also offered to reach out to the Islamic State, with Ko Nakata, an expert on Islamic law, to try to save the hostages. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Kosuke Tsuneoka, a Japanese freelance journalist, listens during a news conference about the two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State group, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Tsuneoka, who was held hostage in Afghanistan in 2010, also offered to reach out to the Islamic State group, with Ko Nakata, an expert on Islamic law, to try to save the hostages. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Kosuke Tsuneoka, a Japanese freelance journalist, prepares to answer questions about the two hostages held by the Islamic State group, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Tsuneoka, who was held hostage in Afghanistan in 2010, also offered to reach out to the Islamic State group, with Ko Nakata, an expert on Islamic law, to try to save the hostages. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 22: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Islamic law scholar and former Doshisha University professor Ko Nakata speaks during a press conference at teh Foreign Correspondents' Club on January 22, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. Nakata claimed he has got connections with the militant group, and able to intermediate the negotiation on the release of the 47-year-old freelance journalist Kenji Goto and 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa, the founder of a private security company. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. The Islamic State group threatened to kill two Japanese hostages Tuesday unless they receive $200 million in 72 hours, directly demanding the ransom from Japan's premier during his visit to the Middle East. Abe vowed to save the men, saying: "Their lives are the top priority." (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
#ISIS threatens to execute two #Japanese hostages unless ransom of $200 million is paid within 72 hours. http://t.co/Z8egkDNYNG
A man watches a television broadcasting a news about detained two Japanese, at an electronics store in Tokyo, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. The release of an online video Tuesday purporting to show an Islamic State figure demanding $200 million in ransom for two Japanese hostages ambushed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he was wrapping up a six-day tour of the Middle East. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - JANUARY 20: In this file photo, dated as April 25, 2014, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto Jogo, captured by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and one of two Japanese hostages, is seen in Aleppo, Syria. (Photo by Ahmed Muhammed Ali/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Isis demand $200m to spare two Japanese hostages in chilling new video http://t.co/CxKrYhijQH http://t.co/C132cl6vlh
Something about #ISIS video of 2 Japanese hostages. Note the shadows in different angles & differing colour contrast http://t.co/FmSDVH31zI
Purported ISIS video threatens beheading of Japanese hostages in lieu of $200M ransom: http://t.co/MVByEWPz6h http://t.co/qt0BTJGOZh
Full statement by #ISIS in latest video. Asking for 200 million dollars in 72 hours or 2 Japanese hostages killed. http://t.co/f6uf4LXz0O
The two Japanese #ISIS hostages are believed to be freelance journalist Kenji Goto (L) and Haruna Yukawa (R). http://t.co/Bmqssfnt8W
Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa was captured by #ISIS in summer last year via @ArtWendeley http://t.co/sa9Iq15JSH
Vice-Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama to be sent to Jordan to help coordinate ISIS hostage response.
#Japan’s government vows not to back down after #ISIS threatens to kill Japanese hostages - http://t.co/WtKhvzDIPc http://t.co/SaEUbbKlpz
ISIS militants' death threat stirs anger, shock in #Japan http://t.co/7pb2nQBRsn http://t.co/6WCsPHKEwy
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead of their meeting at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. An online video released Tuesday purported to show the Islamic State group threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless they receive a $200 million ransom in the next 72 hours. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser, Pool)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, escorts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. An online video released Tuesday purported to show the Islamic State group threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless they receive a $200 million ransom in the next 72 hours. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inspect an honor guard at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. An online video released Tuesday purported to show the Islamic State group threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless they receive a $200 million ransom in the next 72 hours. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
The sister, right, and wife, left, of Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who is held by the Islamic State group militants, cry as they ride a car during a protest in front of the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Jordan on Wednesday offered a precedent-setting prisoner swap to the Islamic State group in a desperate attempt to save a Jordanian air force pilot the militants purportedly threatened to kill, along with a Japanese hostage. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Members of Al-Kaseasbeh, the tribe of Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who is held by the Islamic State group militants, light candles and carry posters with his picture and Arabic that reads "we are all Muath," at the captured pilot's tribal gathering divan, in his home town of Karak, Jordan, Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015. An online video released Saturday night purported to show an Islamic State group militant behead Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, ending days of negotiations by diplomats to save the man. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
People stage a silent rally for Japanese hostage Kenji Goto called 'Kenji, You will be alive in our memories' near the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on February 1, 2015. Some 200 people gathered the rally. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on February 1 denounced as 'heinous and despicable' the apparent beheading of a second Japanese hostage by the Islamic State group, as global leaders spoke out to condemn the militants. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
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TOKYO (AP) -- Lacking strong clout and diplomatic reach in the Middle East, Japan scrambled Thursday for ways to secure the release of two hostages held by the Islamic State group, as two people with contacts there offered to try to negotiate.

The militants threatened in a video message to kill the hostages within 72 hours unless they receive $200 million. Based on the video's release time, that deadline would expire sometime Friday.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Thursday that Japan was trying all possible ways to reach those holding the hostages - 47-year-old freelance journalist Kenji Goto, and 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa, the founder of a private security company.

'Sooner or Later We Need to Talk to ISIS' Experts Warn

Japan had not received any message from IS since the release of the video, he said.

The crisis is a test of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to expand Japan's role in international affairs and raise the profile of its military. Tokyo lacks strong diplomatic connections in the Middle East, and Japanese diplomats left Syria as the civil war there escalated, adding to the difficulty of contacting the group holding the hostages.

So far, the only initiative made public was an offer by Ko Nakata, an expert on Islamic law and former professor at Kyoto's Doshisha University.

Appearing at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Nakata, who is also a former Islamic specialist at the Japanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia, read a message in Japanese and Arabic.

"Seventy-two hours is just too short. Please wait just a bit longer, and do not try to take action immediately," he said, addressing the militants. "If there is room to talk, I'm ready to go and negotiate."

Nakata urged the Islamic State to "explain the group's plan to the Japanese government, and wait for a counter proposal from our side." He also proposed offering $200 million in humanitarian aid to refugees and residents of areas controlled by the Islamic State, through the Red Crescent Society.

"The Red Crescent Society is operating under the Islamic State's control. Why don't we seek Turkey's mediation and give the money for the people affected by the conflicts in Iraq and Syria? I believe this could be a rational, acceptable option," he said.

Kosuke Tsuneoka, a Japanese journalist who was held hostage in Afghanistan in 2010, also offered to reach out to the Islamic State, with Nakata, to try to save the hostages.

It is unclear if the two would be allowed to go to Syria, since they have been questioned by Japan's security police on suspicion of trying to help a Japanese college student visit Syria to fight with the Islamic State group.

Nakata said his contact was the Islamic State group's current spokesman, whom he identified as Umar Grabar. But he said police surveillance and harassment was preventing communication with their Islamic State contacts.

Asked if Japan would consider the offer by Tsuneoka and Nakata to intercede, Suga said Tokyo was "prepared to consider all possible ways to save the two hostages."

Abe returned from a six-day Middle East tour on Wednesday, vowing not to give in to terrorism. He has limited choices, among them to openly pay the extremists or ask an ally like the United States to attempt a risky rescue inside Syria since Japan's military operates only in a self-defense capacity at home.

Japanese media have reported that Goto's wife received an email in December asking for more than 2 billion yen ($17 million) in ransom, but not threatening to kill Goto.

It is unclear how many times Japan has paid ransom in past hostage cases. The only confirmed case was in Kyrgyzstan in 1999.

Abe and other Japanese officials have not said directly whether Japan would pay ransom - a decision fraught with implications both for Japan and other countries.

That issue was raised by British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon on Wednesday in talks in London among the British and Japanese foreign and defense ministers.

He "advised that we should always keep in mind what happens next as a result of our acts. He advised there will be consequences if we do not act strongly now," Defense Minister Gen Nakatani told reporters in London.

Japan has sought and received offers of help from many countries, including Jordan, where an envoy sent by Abe, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama, met with King Abdullah II.

"Time is very short and we are very worried," Nakayama told reporters after his meeting with the king.

During his Mideast tour, Abe pledged $200 million in aid for refugees displaced by the fighting. In its ransom video, the Islamic State group accused Abe of providing money to kill Muslim women and children and destroy homes, a charge the Japanese government rejects.

The current crisis could make the public more wary of greater involvement in the Middle East and other global crises, based on past experience.

In 2004, militants captured a Japanese backpacker, demanding that Japan pull its troops out of humanitarian projects in southern Iraq. The government refused, and the backpacker was found beheaded.

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