Japanese hostage held by Islamic State is a Christian journalist

One of the two Japanese hostages taken by Islamic State (IS) in Syria is a baptised Christian who belongs to the United Church of Christ in Japan.

IS is demanding $200m from the Japanese government for the release of Kenji Goto Jogo, a freelance journalist, and Haruna Yukawa, captured last August when fighting with Suqour al-Sham, a Syrian opposition group.

Kenji Goto, whose small company Independent Press supplies stories to Japanese media from conflicts around the world, was baptised in the 1990s. He is thought to have been captured in October.

His church belongs to the largest Protestant denomination in Japan with about 200,000 members.

Japan Times reported that Kenji Goto has long been committed to covering socially vulnerable people in the Middle East and has a strong sense of justice.

Hiroshi Tamura, pastor of Chofu church, said Goto was "devoted to reporting what should be reported with a firm conviction." Tamura was, until recently, pastor of Goto's congregation at Denenchofu Church.

He said the journalist had recently visited the Middle East and Somalia.

"He has a strong sense of justice... and he has always been conscious of vulnerable people, including children."

An Islamist terrorist with a British-sounding accent said in the video that was released online that the two hostages will be killed unless Japan pays the ransom within 72 hours.