The outpost was formed well before the surviving hostage, journalist Kenji Goto, was captured in November, but after Yukawa had been held prisoner for about a year ISIL.
In November, the command post added Goto to its list of Japanese detained.
The post is headed by a senior vice minister in the Foreign Office, Yasuhide Nakayama, who told reporters that “we hope the two countries [Japan and Jordan] can join hands to realize a future in which the Jordanian [Air Force] pilot and Goto are returned to their country with smiles,” he said.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported Wednesday that Tokyo had formally requested of King Abdullah II that he consider releasing convicted terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi in exchange for a Jordanian pilot also held hostage -- a further sign that Tokyo has, in a sense, out-sourced the hostage situation to Jordan.
“Japan is not the party in charge,” The Yomiuri quoted a Japanese official as saying.
The release Lt. Muath al-Kasaesbeh, who was captured after parachuting out of his damaged F-16 on Dec. 24, is said to be the top priority of the Jordanian government, just as Goto is the top priority of the Japanese government.
In a third video released Tuesday, a man appearing to speak for Goto warned that the two countries -- now yoked in a complex hostage minuet -- had only 24 hours to comply and even less time for the pilot.
The Tokyo Broadcasting System, citing Jordanian government sources, claimed that ISIL might up the ante by demanding the release of 27 additional prisoners, including one Zaid al-Karboli, also detained for the 2005 bombing of hotels in Amman that killed 57 people.
The remarks by Suga about the opening of the secret command post last summer might have been a way of defusing criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for supposedly doing nothing about the hostages until the issue blew up into a major crisis last week.
Some senior members of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) criticized the timing of Abe’s promise of $200 million in non-military aid, announced in Cairo during his recent Middle East trip.
It should not have been made while Japanese nationals were held hostage and while the Paris attacks that killed 17 people were still fresh, said Seiji Maehara, a DPJ leader and former foreign minister at the opening of Parliament this week.
However, other opposition leaders called on all sides to cool the criticism while crisis is at such a delicate stage. One communist member of parliament was rebuked by the party leader after criticizing Abe’s handling of the crisis on her official Twitter account.