The mother of a Japanese hostage held by Islamic State extremists has made an emotional appeal to prime minister Shinzo Abe to save her son after his captors issued what they said was a final death threat.
Junko Ishido, the mother of freelance journalist Kenji Goto, read out her plea to Mr Abe to “please save Kenji”.
She begged Mr Abe to work with the Jordanian government to try to save Mr Goto, saying: “Kenji has only a little time left.”
Mr Abe earlier expressed outrage, demanding that the extremists free her son, as secret talks sought both his release and that of a Jordanian pilot.
The efforts in Jordan to free Mr Goto and Lieutenant Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh gained urgency with the release of an apparent ultimatum from IS yesterday.
In the message, the extremists said the hostages would be killed within 24 hoursunless Jordan freed Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death for her part in a 2005 terror attack on a hotel that killed 60 people.
“This was an extremely despicable act and we feel strong indignation. We strongly condemn that,” Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe said.
“While this is a tough situation, we remain unchanged in our stance of seeking help from the Jordanian government in securing the early release of Mr Goto.”
In Jordan, the pilot’s father, Safi al-Kaseasbeh, begged the government “to meet the demands” of the kidnappers.
“All people must know, from the head of the regime to everybody else, that the safety of Mu’ath means the stability of Jordan, and the death of Mu’ath means chaos in Jordan,” he said.
About 200 of the pilot’s relatives protested outside the prime minister’s office in the Jordanian capital Amman, chanting anti-government slogans and urging that it meet the captors’ demands.
A member of Jordan’s parliament said the country was in indirect talks with the militants to secure the hostages’ release.
Bassam al-Manasseer, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said negotiations were taking place through religious and tribal leaders in Iraq, adding that Jordan and Japan would not negotiate directly with IS or free al-Rishawi in exchange for Mr Goto only.