TOKYO — The Japanese government said it was working closely with Jordan to secure the release of a captured Jordanian pilot and one of its citizens being held by ISIS extremists. "We will put out efforts together and do everything we can so that the two men are able to return to their respective homes with smiles on their faces," Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama, who is heading the Japanese crisis task force in Amman, Jordan, told reporters on Tuesday.
This was the first mention by a Japanese official of 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh who has been held by ISIS since his plane crashed in Syria in December.
It is unclear exactly what options the Japanese government had to secure the release of Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist. Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has never openly rejected the possibility of obtaining Goto’s release through an exchange of prisoners, during a parliamentary session on Tuesday he once again vowed not to cave into the demands of the terrorists. In video released Saturday, ISIS claimed it had executed Japanese captive Haruna Yukawa, and demanded the release of a female prisoner held in Jordan or else it will murder Goto.
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— Arata Yamamoto
The Associated Press contributed to this report.