Hundreds of people have gathered outside the Japanese prime minister’s office in Tokyo to hold a silent vigil in honour of journalist Kenji Goto, who was executed by Islamic State militants.
In a video released online, IS claimed it had killed the 47-year-old journalist – the second purported beheading of a Japanese hostage in a week – but made no mention of a Jordanian pilot it had also threatened to kill.
Japan has said it was “highly probable” that the video was authentic.
Goto, 47-year-old, had devoted his life to giving a voice to victims, particularly children in conflict zones.
As the country mourned, some 200 people rallied outside the office of prime minister Shinzo Abe, who condemned the killing as “heinous and despicable”.
They held signs reading “I am Kenji”, mourning the intrepid journalist by echoing the catchcry of mourners of victims of the shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in early January.
In a show of defiance after the killing, Mr Abe vowed to increase Japan’s humanitarian aid for countries fighting IS militants.
“We will never forgive terrorists,” Mr Abe said, appearing to fight back tears as he spoke.
“The government has been working with the utmost efforts on the issue – I deeply regret that this is the result.”
Mr Abe said Japan would never give in to terrorists and would continue to work with international partners to bring them to justice.
“We will cooperate with the international community to make them atone for their crimes,” he said.
Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, who earlier appealed for his safe release, appeared before the media in Tokyo after the video was released.
She tearfully pledged to continue her son’s efforts towards making “the world a place without any wars, and to save children from war and poverty”.
“I promise here to carry out his legacy, hopefully with your support,” she told reporters at her home.
“I hope Kenji’s death … [will] contribute to the world however small it may be.”
Bid to save hostage pilot
Jordan vowed to do all it could to save an airman held by IS after Goto’s death was announced.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II denounced Goto’s murder as a “cowardly, criminal act” and said every effort was being made to seek the release of the hero pilot Maaz Kassasbeh, captured after his F-16 plane crashed in Syria in December.
IS vowed to kill Goto and the Jordanian pilot by sunset on Thursday unless Amman handed over an Iraqi female jihadist who is on death row for her role in bombings in the capital that killed 60 people in 2005.
Amman said it would hand her over if it was provided with proof Mr Kassabeh was still alive.
Government spokesman Mohammed al-Momeni pledged Jordan would “do everything it can to save the life and secure the release” of Mr Kassasbeh.
Safi Kassasbeh, the pilot’s father, denounced the killing of Kenji Goto and told AFP the Jordanian “government is responsible” for his son’s fate.
“Maaz is our son and a son of the military, and the government is responsible for him,” said Safi Kassasbeh, who in previous days urged authorities to seek his son’s release “at any price”.