Japan says hostage negotiations 'deadlocked'
31 January 2015, 18:56
Tokyo - Japan's deputy foreign minister has said negotiations with the
Islamic State group threatening to execute a Jordanian pilot and a Japanese
journalist have become "deadlocked", local media reported on Saturday.
Yasuhide Nakayama, who is leading Tokyo's emergency response team in Amman,
told reporters in the Jordanian capital late on Friday that there had been no
progress in trying to secure the release of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and
airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh.
"It has become deadlocked," he said, according to Japan's public
broadcaster NHK. "Staying vigilant, we will continue analysing and
examining information as the government is making concerted efforts
In Tokyo, deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko, a key aide to Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe, said on Saturday morning that the government was still
waiting for new information on the hostage crisis.
IS had vowed to kill Kassasbeh by sunset on Thursday unless Amman hands over
an Iraqi female jihadist in return for Goto.
Jordan has demanded evidence that the pilot, who crashed in Syria on 24 December,
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 IS releases
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 IS 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 exchange.
IS 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 IS, 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 $200m 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