As the deadline imposed by ISIS approached, the mother of one of two Japanese men held by the militant group begged for her son’s life.
“To all members of ISIS, Kenji [Goto] is not the enemy of ISIS. Please release him,” Junko Ishido, Goto’s mother, said in a statement Thursday. “There is so little time left before the deadline.”
ISIS has threatened in a video released Tuesday to kill two Japanese citizens, Goto and Haruna Yukawa, if it doesn’t receive $200 million in ransom from the Japanese government.
Time is of the essence: the Japanese government says it estimates ISIS’ ultimatum will expire at 2:50 p.m. Friday, Tokyo time (12:50 a.m. ET Friday).
“I sincerely apologize to the Japanese government and all concerned foreign countries for all the trouble that my son has caused,” Ishido said. “I have been just crying for last three days, filled with sadness. Words fail to describe how I feel. Kenji always has been a kind person ever since he was little. He was always saying, ‘I want to save the lives of children in war zones.’ “
Japanese officials have said they are doing their best to communicate with ISIS, but Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday that Tokyo had so far heard nothing and doesn’t know what situation the two hostages are in.
In a Thursday news conference, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan wants to secure the hostages’ safe release but will not yield to the threat of the terrorists.
He said Japan was trying to reach the ISIS captors through third parties, such as governments in the region or local tribal leaders, but has not been able to determine whether Goto and Yukawa are safe.
“We are aiming to save them as soon as possible,” Suga said Thursday.