TOKYO (REUTERS/AFP) - Japan's government on Sunday strongly condemned Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after the militants released a video purporting to show captive Kenji Goto beheaded.
"I cannot help feeling strong indignation that an inhuman and despicable act of terrorism like this has been committed again," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters, saying the video appeared to show Mr Goto.
"We resolutely condemn this."
Mr Suga said relevant Cabinet ministers would meet to discuss the government's response to the video.
He did not comment on whether Tokyo thought the video was credible.
In it, Mr Goto is seen kneeling, dressed in an orange outfit, as a masked man standing beside him with a knife blames the Japanese government for his "slaughter."
It ends with a still photo of the body with the head resting on the back.
Mr Yasuhide Nakayama, Japan's deputy foreign minister, had said negotiations with the militant group were "deadlocked", local media reported on Saturday.
Last week, a video appeared in which Mr Goto and Mr Haruna Yukawa, a self-described contractor, were seen kneeling in the desert.
A masked, knife-wielding militant said Tokyo had 72 hours to pay a US$200 million (S$270 million) ransom if it wanted to spare their lives.
When that deadline expired, new pictures appeared to show Mr Yukawa had been beheaded.
Officially pacifist Japan has long avoided getting embroiled in conflicts across the Middle East and is rarely the target of religious extremism. So the hostage crisis has been especially shocking for the country.
Many braved Tokyo's chilly streets to pick up the Yomiuri newspaper's special supplement about the Goto video.
"It's scary - they (the militants) are saying they'll target Japanese people now," said 21-year-old university student Kyosuke Kamogawa.
"That sends chills down my spine."