The purported beheading of high-profile Japanese journalist Kenji Goto has prompted a sharp response from the Japanese government. Prime Minister Abe has vowed to help bring the "Islamic State" killers to justice.
"I am extremely angry about these heinous and despicable terrorist acts. We will never forgive terrorists," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters in Tokyo on Sunday.
Shortly before his statement, information was released publicly that an "Islamic State" video purported to show the beheading of captive Kenji Goto. The 47-year-old journalist was kidnapped in October while in Syria. There, he had hoped to win the release of his compatriot, Haruna Yukawa.
"I feel strong indignation at this inhumane and contemptible act of terrorism," Abe said, adding that Tokyo would "cooperate with the international community to make [the perpetrators] atone for their crimes."
Goto's was the second beheading of a Japanese citizen by IS. The first was of Yukawa, whose video they released a week ago.
Last week, the group demanded Tokyo pay a $200-million (170-million euro) ransom for Goto and Yukawa's release. Abe refused to bend to "terrorism."
IS had previously said it would allow Goto to go free in exchange for the release of Iraqi Sajida al-Rishawi by Jordan. Jordan, in return, demanded the release of one of its pilots currently being held by IS. There was no mention of the airman in Saturday's video.
IS: 'let the nighmare begin'
In the video showing Goto's death, which Japan's defense minister has said appears genuine, a masked man with a British accent blamed the journalist's grisly demise on Japan's alliance with the US, which is currently leading international airstrikes against IS.
"Because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin," the man said.
While Japan is not participating in the military campaign against IS, it recently vowed billions in non-military assistance to Middle Eastern countries affected by the Syrian war and the expansion of IS through parts of Syria and Iraq.
In late August, the terrorist group beheaded American James Foley, the first in a series of decapitations of captives whose countries are involved in the US military campaign. They include Americans Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig; Britons David Haines and Alan Henning; and Frenchman Herve Gourdel, who died at the hands of a jihadist group in Algeria with links to IS.
kms/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)