Abe calls for Jordan's close cooperation as deadline looms

Abe calls for Jordan's close cooperation as deadline looms

TOKYO - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his government is fully utilizing every possible diplomatic channel to secure the release of a Japanese hostage held by Islamic State militants, as the 24-hour deadline to spare the man's life fast approaches.

On Tuesday evening, a new image of captured Japanese journalist Kenji Goto was released online with an audio message saying he and a Jordanian hostage would be killed unless Jordan releases an imprisoned female terrorist on death row within 24 hours.

Abe told a ministerial meeting on Wednesday morning that "this is a cowardly act and I feel strong resentment. I firmly condemn the act." He has also called on ministers to bolster cooperation with the countries concerned and to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens at home and abroad.

The Jordanian government is coming under intense pressure. Abe said his government has been calling for Jordan's cooperation in securing Goto's release as soon as possible, adding that Tokyo will adhere to that stance from now on.

After the meeting, Abe told reporters that he has instructed his ministers to work closely together to resolve the unfolding hostage crisis. Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters he instructed a senior vice foreign minister Yasuhide Nakayama to continue urging the Jordanian government to help secure Goto's release. Nakayama has been put in charge of the liaison office in Jordan.

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