Japan PM demands release of Japanese hostages held by IS

Updated: 2015-01-20 21:07


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JERUSALEM - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe demanded the release of two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State (IS) militants on Tuesday at a press conference in Jerusalem.

"I strongly demand that they (the hostages) not be harmed and that they be immediately released," Abe told reporters in Jerusalem on Tuesday. "Their lives are the top priority," he added.

He also called the kidnap "unacceptable" and said the international community should not give in to terror. "The international community needs to respond firmly and cooperate without caving into terrorism," Abe said.

Abe also referred in his statements to the terror attacks in Paris in the past two weeks in which 17 people were killed, saying he "denounces any act of terror" and that Japan would "fight against terrorism along with the international community."

The Japanese prime minister did not respond to whether Japanese authorities are planning to pay the ransom, simply saying Japan will "make utmost efforts to save the lives (of the hostages)."

The Japanese prime minister also said he would send a deputy foreign minister, Yashuide Nakayama, to Jordan in order to try to figure out a solution for the hostages crisis.

Abe arrived in Israel on Sunday with a delegation of officials and business leaders in order to boost the economic cooperation with Israel.

Earlier on Tuesday, the IS group demanded in a video footage 200 million U.S. dollars in ransom in order to release the two Japanese captives.

The press conference in Jerusalem marked the end of Abe's visit in Israel, the first visit made by a Japanese prime minister since 2006.