TOKYO (AP) — The release of an online video Tuesday purporting to show an Islamic State figure demanding $200 million in ransom for two Japanese hostages ambushed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he was wrapping up a six-day tour of the Middle East.
The news brought into sharp, urgent focus in Tokyo terrorism issues that are usually only a distant concern for most Japanese.
JAPAN'S MIDEAST INVOLVEMENT:
Japan relies on the Middle East for most of the crude oil it needs to run the world's third-largest economy. Japan has been stepping up its efforts to build wider economic ties and has increased exports as Abe has crisscrossed the region peddling Japanese technology and investment. Abe's Middle East mission included more than 100 government officials and presidents of Japanese companies.
Japan's government spokesman, Yasuhide Suga, said Tuesday that Tokyo remains committed to working for stability in the region and providing non-military, humanitarian aid. Abe and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed Sunday during Abe's visit to Jerusalem to cooperate on counterterrorism.
Abe will participate in planned official talks Tuesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas but is cancelling other events on his schedule to focus on the hostage crisis, Suga said. He was due to return to Japan on Wednesday.