Japan decries ‘outrageous’ hostage murder

Anti-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe protesters rally with signs and a banner reading: "Prime Minister Abe, save the life of Kenji Goto!" in front of Abe's official residence in Tokyo Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. From prime minister to ordinary people, Japanese responded with shock Sunday at a video purportedly showing one of two Japanese hostages of the extremist Islamic State group had been killed. With national attention focusing on efforts to save the other hostage, 47-year-old journalist Goto, some also criticized Abe's drive for a more assertive Japan as responsible for the hostage crisis. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

By Miwa Suzuki ,AFP

By Miwa Suzuki TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday branded the murder of a Japanese hostage by Islamic State militants as ��outrageous and unforgivable�� and demanded the immediate release of a second captive, amid a tide of global revulsion. The apparent beheading of self-employed security contractor Haruna Yukawa was announced in a video generally agreed to be credible, and appeared to mark a grave turn of events in a crisis that has gripped Japan for nearly a week. ��Such an act of terrorism is outrageous and unforgivable,�� Abe told broadcaster NHK.

��I condemn it strongly and resolutely,�� he said, calling for the immediate freeing of Yukawa’s fellow captive, freelance journalist Kenji Goto. In a city outside Tokyo, Shoichi Yukawa told of the horror he had felt when he learned that threats to kill his son had been carried out. ��I thought ‘Ah, this finally happened’ and was filled with regret,�� he said. ��I went totally blank, I was only sorry … I had no words,�� he said. ��In my mind I wish very much that this wasn’t true.�� U.S. President Barack Obama led the worldwide condemnation of what he called the ��brutal murder.��

Obama, who arrived in New Delhi Sunday for a three-day visit, telephoned Abe from the Indian capital ��to offer condolences for the murder … and to convey solidarity with the Japanese people,�� said a White House statement. British Prime Minister David Cameron decried the Islamic State movement’s ��murderous barbarity,�� and French President Francois Hollande labeled it a ��barbaric assassination.��

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbot called it ��an absolute atrocity�� carried out by a ��death cult.�� Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the killing as ��an odious crime.��

New Demand for Prisoner Japan was continuing to analyze the images released overnight to confirm the authenticity of the video, said Abe, but he acknowledged it appeared credible. The recording, which lasts nearly three minutes, shows a still image of a gaunt and drawn Goto holding what appears to be a photograph of Yukawa’s slain body. It was posted with an audio recording in which a man claiming to be Goto blames Abe for his fellow captive’s death because he failed to pay a US$200 million ransom. The voice also reveals a new demand for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for her part in multiple bombings in Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people.