A freelance Japanese journalist who went missing in Syria in June 2015 appeared in a video on March 16, 2016, which was posted to the Facebook account of a Syrian named Tarik Abdul Hak. Jumpei Yasuda, who speaks in English in the video, says that no one in Japan cares about his captivity, and that he loves his family.
Yasuda, who appears to be reading from a prepared text, does not say who is holding him or if any demands have been made for his release. He says only that “they” allowed him to say what he wanted to, without saying who “they” are. The journalist says he is being filmed on March 16, 2016.
Abdul Hak did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for more information on the video, but he told The Japan Times he received the footage from an intermediary with the Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Abdul Hak, who identified himself as a fixer and activist from the town of Jisr al-Shughur, denied having any relationship with the group. He claimed the hostage-takers warned they would sell Yasuda to Islamic State militants if negotiations with the Japanese government failed, according to reports.
At a news conference, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed the man in the video was Yasuda and that the government had “taken some actions, because securing safety for Japanese citizens is a top priority for the government,” according to reports. He said he was not aware of any demand for ransom.
Yasuda disappeared in Syria in June 2015, according to news reports. CNN cited an unnamed friend of Yasuda’s as saying he last heard from the reporter on June 23, 2015 when Yasuda said he planned to enter Syria from Turkey.