Japan’s deputy foreign minister has said negotiations with the Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group threatening to execute a Jordanian
pilot and a Japanese journalist have become “deadlocked,” local media
Yasuhide Nakayama, who is leading Tokyo’s
emergency response team in Amman, told reporters in the Jordanian
capital late Friday that there had been no progress in trying to secure
the release of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and airman Maaz
People holding placards take part in a vigil in front of Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, January 30, 2015. (File photo:
“It has become deadlocked,” he said, according
to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK. “Staying vigilant, we will continue
analyzing and examining information as the government is making
concerted efforts together.”
In Tokyo, deputy Chief Cabinet
Secretary Hiroshige Seko, a key aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said
Saturday morning that the government was still waiting for new
information on the hostage crisis.
ISIS had vowed to kill Kassasbeh by sunset on Thursday unless Amman hands over an Iraqi female militant in return for Goto.
Jordan has demanded evidence that the pilot, who crashed in Syria on
December 24, is still alive before freeing would-be suicide bomber
Sajida al-Rishawi, who is on death row.
Jordan has offered to
free Rishawi, who was convicted for her part in triple-hotel bombings in
Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people, if ISIS releases the pilot.
The Jordanian government has been under heavy pressure at home and from
Japan — a major aid donor — to save Kassasbeh as well as Goto.
While ISIS threatened Kassasbeh’s life, it was not clear from its
latest message if the jihadist group was ready to free him as part of an
ISIS had set the Thursday sunset deadline for
Rishawi to be released at the Turkish border in return for Goto but
there was no news of a swap.
Japan, which plays no military
part in the fight against ISIS, was thrust onto the front line last week
when a video appeared in which Goto and Haruna Yukawa, a self-described
contractor, were seen kneeling in the desert.
A masked, knife-wielding militant said Tokyo had 72 hours to pay a $200 million ransom if it wanted to spare their lives.
When that deadline expired, new pictures appeared to show Yukawa had
been beheaded, and a voice identifying itself as Goto demanded the
release of Rishawi.