ISIS to make statement soon on Japanese hostages: NHK

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will release a statement "soon" on its two Japanese hostages, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said on Friday, citing an unidentified spokesman for the al-Qaeda breakaway group. -- PHOTO: AFP
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will release a statement "soon" on its two Japanese hostages, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said on Friday, citing an unidentified spokesman for the al-Qaeda breakaway group. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will release a statement "soon" on its two Japanese hostages, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said on Friday, citing an unidentified spokesman for the al-Qaeda breakaway group.

The Japanese people are infidels at war with ISIS, the spokesman said on a call over the Internet, according to NHK.

When asked by NHK about negotiations with the Japan government for the release of the two men, the spokesman refused to answer, saying it wasn't a good question.

The deadline for Japan to respond to the demand of a US$200 million (S$267 million) ransom is fast approaching, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga saying Japan considers it to be Friday at 2.50pm (1.50pm Singapore time).

Suga said on Thursday that he wasn't aware of any contact from the group.

A masked militant threatened in a video message on Tuesday to kill the men within 72 hours unless Japan pays the ransom, the same amount that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged in aid this week to nations fighting Islamic State.

Abe told British Prime Minister David Cameron by phone on Thursday that he stood by his country's commitment not to pay ransoms, according to Cameron's spokeswoman Helen Bower.

Group of Eight leaders pledged in 2013 not to pay terrorists to free hostages.