Government vows not to bow to IS
Up to late yesterday, officials in Japan were seeking to verify a video that claims Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa, held by Islamic State (IS) militants, has been killed.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denounced the video as "absurd and unforgivable", following an emergency Cabinet meeting. Abe said Japan "will not give in to terrorism".
Last Tuesday, the group threatened to kill Yukawa and fellow Japanese hostage Kenji Goto unless Japan paid US$200 million within 72 hours.
The video purports to show Goto holding a picture of what appears to be the body of Yukawa and issuing a new demand from IS in return for his own release.
Japan's chief Cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the video image "showing a killed Japanese person" was "an abominable and unforgivable act of violence".
"We strongly condemn this action," he said.
Kenji Goto is a well-known freelance journalist and documentary film-maker. Yukawa had reportedly gone to Syria to set up a private military contracting company.
In a video released last Tuesday, a masked man was shown standing over kneeling hostages named as Yukawa and Goto and demanding the ransom.