TOKYO - Japan promised Saturday not to give up "until the very end" on efforts to rescue two Japanese hostages threatened with beheading by Islamic militants demanding a $200 million ransom, after a deadline passed with no word from the captors.
Militants affiliated with the Islamic State group posted an online warning Friday afternoon that the "countdown has begun" for the extremists
The posting, which appeared on a forum popular among Islamic State militants and sympathizers, did not show any images of the hostages, who are believed to be held somewhere in Syria.
Yasuhide Nakayama, a deputy foreign minister sent to Amman, Jordan, said he was working around the clock to coordinate efforts to save the hostages. "We will not rule out any possibility, and we are verifying all information thoroughly," he said. "We will not give up until the very end to rescue the two so we can go home together."