Japanese PM Shinzo Abe today blasted ISIS' apparent execution of hostage Haruna Yukawa as an "outrageous and unforgivable act of violence" and wasted little time in demanding the release of Kenji Goto, reports the New York Times. While the US and Japan are both still in the process of authenticating that the video released yesterday is authentic, Abe said that it had "a high chance of being real." "I am left speechless," he said, as per the AP, which notes he did not address ISIS' new demand for the release of a woman sentenced to death in Jordan in exchange for Goto. "We strongly and totally criticize such acts."
Under criticism is Abe himself, whose push for what the AP calls "a more assertive Japan" is being blamed for Yukawa's death. "This happened when Prime Minister Abe was visiting Israel," said one protester in front of the PM's official residence, calling on him to save Goto. "I think there's a side to this, where they may have taken it as a form of provocation, possibly a big one." It's a particularly brutal blow for pacifist Japan, one expert tells the AP. "That trauma is compounded by the fact that I don't think most Japanese saw this coming," he says. "Many will realize out of this that they too are a part of global society, rather than an isolated island nation." In the ISIS video, a voice apparently belonging to Goto says, "Don’t let these be my last words you ever hear. Don’t let Abe also kill me." (More on the relationship between Yukawa and Goto here.)