UPDATE 8:10 p.m. EST: The Japanese government said Sunday the video released by the Islamic State group showing the beheading of journalist Kenji Goto appears to be genuine, Reuters reported. The government said a police analysis of the video indicated it "has a high degree of credibility," Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said.
UPDATE 7:30 p.m. EST: U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the apparent execution of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto by the Islamic State group as a "heinous act." In a statement released late Saturday, Obama said: "Our thoughts are with Mr. Goto's family and loved ones, and we stand today in solidarity with Prime Minister Abe and the Japanese people in denouncing this barbaric act. ... Standing together with a broad coalition of allies and partners, the United States will continue taking decisive action to degrade and ultimately destroy [the Islamic State]."
Islamic State group militants have purportedly beheaded Kenji Goto, the second of two Japanese hostages captured by the terrorist group in Syria. An online video released late Saturday appears to show a militant with a British accent cutting off Goto's head, the Associated Press reported.
The video was posted on a number of websites, and it shared similar features with previous videos released by the militant group formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS. AP said it could not immediately independently confirm whether the video was real. The Japanese government has also not confirmed the video's authenticity, while U.S. officials said they are trying to confirm it.
"We have seen the video purporting to show that Japanese citizen Kenji Goto has been murdered by the terrorist group ISIL," Bernadette Meehan, a representative of the White House's National Security Council, told AP. "The United States strongly condemns ISIL's actions, and we call for the immediate release of all the remaining hostages. We stand in solidarity with our ally Japan."
The one-minute-long video, called "A Message to the Government of Japan," shows a silent Goto kneeling in an orange prison jumpsuit. The British-sounding militant is heard addressing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe directly. "Abe, because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this man will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin," the man said.
In a separate video Jan. 24, the Sunni terrorist group announced the execution of Japanese national Haruna Yukawa, who was beheaded after a 72-hour deadline to pay a $200 million ransom eclipsed. Goto was captured in October after he traveled to Syria in an attempt to win Yukawa's release.
The Islamic State group recently demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a female suicide bomber who attacked a hotel in Jordan in 2005, in return for Goto. Japan had been working with Jordan to secure the safe release of the journalist and Lt. Muath Kaseasbeh, a Jordanian pilot who crashed in Syria Dec. 24. Jordan continues to demand evidence from the militant group that Kaseasbeh is still alive.
Yasuhide Nakayama, who was leading Japan's emergency-response team in Amman, Jordan, said late Friday that negotiators had made no progress in securing the release of the two hostages. "It has become deadlocked," he said Friday, according to Japan's public broadcaster NHK. "Staying vigilant, we will continue analyzing and examining information as the government is making concerted efforts together."