TOKYO - The mother of a Japanese journalist being held captive by Islamic State militants along with another Japanese citizen appealed for his safe release on Friday as a ransom deadline neared and the Japanese government raced to respond.
In an online video released on Tuesday, a black-clad figure holding a knife stood between journalist Kenji Goto and troubled loner Haruna Yukawa, threatening to kill them if Tokyo did not pay Islamic State $200 million within 72 hours.
The Japanese government considers the deadline to be 2:50 p.m. local time (0550 GMT) on Friday.
"Kenji has always said he wanted to save the lives of children in war zones. He has reported on wars from an unbiased position. Kenji is not an enemy of the Islamic State. Please release him," Goto's mother, Junko Ishido, said in a statement released at a news conference.
"Japan has a war-renouncing clause in its constitution and has not fought a war for 70 years. Japan is not an enemy of Islamic countries and has kept ties of friendship," she said.