A Japanese journalist who has been held by militants in Syria for three years appealed for help in a video released by Japanese media. A Japanese government official said they are doing everything they can.
Japanese media published a video on Wednesday that showed militants in Syria holding a freelance journalist who appealed for help, and said that he had been in captivity for three years.
Japan's top government spokesman said he believed the man's name is Jumpei Yasuda.
A bearded man, in an orange jumpsuit, is shown kneeling and surrounded by two hooded gunmen in black. In the video shown on various media websites, the man says in Japanese in a strained voice: "My name is Umar. I am South Korean. Today's date is July 25, 2018. I am in a terrible situation. Please help me immediately."
It was not clear why he identified himself as Korean or used that name.
Japanese in the area
Speaking at a regular news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, "It is the government's prime responsibility to protect Japanese, and we are making the utmost efforts, using various information networks." He declined to comment further.
A Foreign Ministry official said the government believes Yasuda holds Japanese nationality.
According to Japanese media, Yasuda was reported as being captured by an al-Qaida affiliate after entering Syria from Turkey in 2015. Since then, he has appeared occasionally in online videos, his hair graying, lengthening and becoming more unkempt.
A Japanese would-be soldier of fortune, Haruna Yukawa, was captured by the self-styled Islamic State after slipping into Aleppo in August 2014. His friend, journalist Kenji Goto, sought to help Yukawa and was also captured. Both were beheaded in early 2015.
av/jm (Reuters, AP)