Journalist suspected of being held captive by militants in Syria surfaces in video
Government acknowledges video; says it isn't aware of ransom demands
A Japanese freelance journalist who has been missing in Syria since June 2015 has appeared in a video posted online Wednesday.
Although Jumpei Yasuda, whose identity Japanese media have confirmed through his family, references the date March 16, CNN cannot confirm the date the video was recorded.
While Japanese media have previously reported that Yasuda was captured by terrorist organization al Nusra Front after entering Syria, there is nothing in the video that definitively identifies any captors.
Bearded and directly addressing the camera in English, Yasuda delivers a short message, although he does not elaborate on his predicament.
“Hello, I am Jumpei Yasuda and today is my birthday, 16 March. They told me that I can speak what I want freely. And I can send a message through this to anyone. I love you my wife, father, mother, brother. I always think about you. I want to hug you. I want to talk with you but I can’t anymore. Just I can say: Please take care.
“My life, 42 years, all was good, especially since eight years, so happy. I have to say to something to my country: When you’re sitting there, wherever you are, in a dark room, suffering with the pain, there’s still no one. No one answering. No one responding. You’re invisible. You are not exist. No one care about you.”
Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says the government is gathering information on the situation and is not aware of any random demands.
“I am aware of the video,” he said. “With the understanding that ensuring the safety of Japanese citizens as the most important duty of the government, we are using all kinds of information networks to deal with the situation. We are also analyzing the video, but considering the nature of the issue, we’d like to refrain from commenting.”
Yasuda’s Twitter account has not been updated since June 21.
His last tweet referred to challenges to his reporting which had become “no laughing matter” and said it would be difficult to continue making updates about his work on blogs and social media in real time.
A Japanese journalist, Kenji Goto, was executed by ISIS in a highly publicized killing in January 2015 after crossing into ISIS-controlled Syria to report. Goto, a fellow member of Japan’s small community of freelance war reporters, was a friend of Yasuda’s.
Mohammed Emwazi – the militant known as Jihadi John who was responsible for many of ISIS’ high-profile killings, including the slayings of Goto and fellow Japanese captive Haruna Yukawa – was confirmed dead in January.
According to his website, Yasuda has been a journalist since 1997, starting out in newspapers before going freelance in 2003 after a trip to Afghanistan.
He began reporting from Iraq and had been held in custody several times.