The Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group threatened Tuesday to kill a Japanese journalist and a Jordanian pilot within 24 hours if Amman refuses to free a jailed female jihadist.
The video released on jihadist websites shows a picture of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto holding a photograph of captured Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh with a voiceover purportedly by Goto relaying the threat.
Japan on Wednesday responded to the video, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga saying "the government in this extremely difficult situation has been asking for assistance from the Jordanian government towards securing Goto's early release," reports AFP.
Japan and Jordan are working together to try and secure the release of the two captives, after ISIS apparently beheaded Japanese contractor Haruna Yukawa last week after a 72-hour deadline for a $200 million ransom passed without payment.
It had also threatened to behead Goto at the same deadline, but in a video released Saturday, the group said its demand had now changed and it wanted failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi released from death row in Jordan in exchange for Goto.
Rishawi is a would-be Iraqi female suicide bomber who is on death row in connection with triple hotel bomb attacks in Amman that killed 60 people on November 9, 2005.
The Amman bombings were claimed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq who was killed in a US air raid there in June 2006.
His group was a precursor of the ISIS group, and Rishawi's brother, Samir Atruss al-Rishawi, who was also killed in Iraq, was one of Zarqawi's lieutenants.
Goto recorded a video of himself before he entered Syria late last October to report on the situation and locate Yukawa. In it, he identified himself and said "no matter what happens I will not bear a grudge against the Syrian people. No matter what happens, the responsibility is mine."
"Please, everyone in Japan, do not place any responsibility on the Syrian people," he said in the video message. Smiling, he added "I'll definitely come back alive though."