ISIS Japan
Islamic State (Isis) is set to release ‘statement’ on the status of Japanese hostages as deadline looms largeAl-Hayat Media

The Islamic State (Isis) is reportedly set to issue a statement on the status of the two Japanese hostages who were threatened with execution if Tokyo does not pay $200m in ransom as the deadline given by the militant group looms large.

The extremist group had released a video asking the Japanese government to pay the ransom money within 72 hours. The deadline ends on Friday afternoon, Japan local time.

According to Japan's public broadcaster NHK World, which cited an IS spokesperson, the Sunni Islamist organisation will issue a statement on the status of the two captives Kenji Goto, 47, and Haruna Yukawa, 42.

"Japanese are irreligious people who are in war with the Islamic State," the IS militant was quoted as saying, adding that he was aware that Japan was sending only non-military aid.

Japanese officials are tight-lipped over the exact handling of the matter. There is no indication if any negotiations are taking place with the radical group.

Japan has been making all efforts to secure the hostages' release in the backdrop of Tokyo's limited clout and lack of diplomatic muscle in the Middle East.

Both Turkish and Jordanian officials are thought to be playing key roles in getting the hostages released.

The situation has put Japan in a predicament: if Tokyo agrees to pay the ransom it would directly fund the extremist group and encourage such extortion bids in future. By refusing to pay, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could be seen as abandoning two Japanese citizens.

Meanwhile, Goto's mother has appealed to the extremist group to release her son.

In a heart-rending message, a teary-eyed Junko Ishido told reporters: "Time is running out. Please, Japanese government, save my son's life. My son is not an enemy of the Islamic State."