Japan says it's exercising every diplomatic channel in the wake of ISIS' video threat to kill two Japanese hostages, emphasizing that the funds it's contributing to the international effort against the group are "not aimed at killing Muslims … and that [ISIS] shouldn't harm the two Japanese men," per Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday that the country wouldn't abandon plans to provide the money, which he said is intended to provide food and medicine for people affected by the crisis, the Wall Street Journal reports. Suga responded to questions about whether a $200 million ransom would be paid by saying that Japan wouldn't submit to terrorists. But Japan will "exert its utmost to secure the men's release," he said.
Japan is also sending a counterterror team to Jordan as it investigates the video, CBS News reports. Hostage Haruna Yukawa sought to become a military contractor without any experience in the field, CBS notes, via Japan's Asahi Shimbun. When a friend warned him about working in Syria, he said he was "alone in the world, so even if I die, it doesn't matter." Fellow hostage Kenji Goto, a journalist, made it his life's work "to cover children in conflict-torn regions with a hope to convey to the world the harsh realities that those marginalized children are facing," a friend tells Asahi Shimbun. For more on their story, click here.