Japan confirms identity of journalist freed from Syria

Jumpei Yasuda was last heard from in Syria in 2015

Jumpei Yasuda was last heard from in Syria in 2015

A man believed to be a Japanese freelance journalist who was captured three years ago in Syria has been freed, a Japanese government spokesman said on Tuesday.

"He looks to be in good health, but our staff will check his condition and transport him to Japan as soon as possible", Kono told reporters.

Japanese diplomats in Turkey confirmed the released man was Jumpei Yasuda, a freelancer who was reported to have been captured by an al-Qaeda affiliate in 2015.

Yasuda, 44, is said to have been held by Islamic extremist group Levant Liberation Organization (formerly the Nusra Front, see below) since June 2015.

Mr Kono said Mr Yasuda appeared to be in good health.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono announces that the government has confirmed a man under protective custody by Turkish authorities is Jumpei Yasuda, at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on October 24, 2018.

At a press conference earlier Wednesday, Suga said that the government has been working to solve the kidnapping mainly through a group tasked with gathering information about global terrorism directed by the Prime Minister's Office.

Suga said no ransom was paid.

"We were informed that he is in an immigration facility in Antakya (in Turkey)".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the government will help arrange an early return home for a Japanese freelance journalist who was freed after more than three years of captivity in Syria.

Arata Yamamoto reported from Tokyo and Rachel Elbaum reported from London. The group handed Yasuda over to the Turkistan Islamic Party, which mostly comprises Chinese jihadis based in Syria, according to Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor.

"I am thinking about what I need to do", he said.

"We're now verifying the information. but it's highly likely it is Jumpei Yasuda himself", he added. "So, I've been praying every day", she said.

On Wednesday morning while awaiting confirmation, Yasuda's parents told reporters at their home in Iruma in Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo, that they had learned about the release at around 11 p.m. Tuesday after being told by Yasuda's wife to watch the TV news.

"My name is Jumpei Yasuda, a Japanese journalist".

In 2015, he entered Syria, hoping to report on the fate of a colleague, Kenji Goto.

"I'm so happy, that's all I can say", Yasuda's mother, Sachiko, told Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

Tsuneoka, who shared an experience similar to Yasuda's when he was detained by local authorities in Iraq in 2016 while covering the battle to retake the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, stressed the necessity of reporting from conflict-torn areas. In 2014, following Qatari involvement, American journalist Peter Theo Curtis was released by the al-Nusra Front in Syria. A video released a month later showed him blindfolded and held by armed men, saying "Oh, Jesus".

Since then he has appeared occasionally in online videos. Cantlie has worked for several publications, including The Sunday Times, The Sun and The Sunday Telegraph.

Lebanese journalist Samir Kassab, who worked for Sky News, was kidnapped on October 14, 2013, along with a colleague from Mauritania, Ishak Moctar, and a Syrian driver while on a trip in northern Syria. Daesh beheaded Foley in August 2014.

Two months later, another video was uploaded.

Girls drew up plans to attack school with knives, pizza cutter
Wozniacki stands firm to stay alive in Singapore