TOKYO, Feb 1 : Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday denounced as "heinous and despicable" the apparent beheading of a second Japanese hostage by the Islamic State group, as global leaders denounced the jihadists.
IS claimed in a video released online on Saturday that it had killed 47-year-old Kenji Goto -- the second purported beheading of a Japanese hostage in a week -- but made no mention of a captured Jordanian pilot it had also threatened to kill.
Jordan "will do everything it can" to save the pilot's life and secure his release, government spokesman Mohammed al-Momeni told the official Petra news agency in Amman.
Goto, a respected war correspondent, is seen in an orange outfit -- similar to those worn by Guantanamo Bay inmates -- kneeling next to a standing masked man dressed head-to-toe in black with his face covered.
The man, who speaks with a British accent, appears to be the same IS militant who has featured in previous execution videos.
He directly addresses Abe, saying the killing was the result of "reckless" decisions by the Japanese government -- a possible reference to aid money that Tokyo gave to help refugees fleeing IS-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq -- and would mark the beginning of a "nightmare for Japan". The brief video, whose content has not been verified, ends with the image of a body and a decapitated head on top of it.
"After an extensive review, we believe it's highly probable" the video is authentic, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
Japan's premier, who appeared on the verge of tears, pledged not to back down and said his government would increase humanitarian aid to the Middle East.
"I can't find the words to describe how I feel about my son's very sad death," a sobbing Junko Ishido, Goto's mother, told reporters.
US President Barack Obama led international condemnation of the "heinous murder".
"Through his reporting, Goto courageously sought to convey the plight of the Syrian people to the outside world," Obama said.
A spokesman for UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the "barbaric murder... underscores the violence that so many have been subjected to in Iraq and Syria".
Paris and London also denounced the video, with British Prime Minister David Cameron saying it was "a further reminder that (IS) is the embodiment of evil, with no regard for human life".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a condolence telegram to Abe, called the apparent killing an "abhorrent, inhuman" act. ?AFP