Japan analyses video of journalist abducted in Syria

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Tokyo, March 17 (IANS) The Japanese government is analysing an alleged video of journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who has been held captive in Syria by an armed group since July 2015, said Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday.

The video, uploaded on Wednesday on the Facebook profile of Tariq Abdul Haq, a Syrian opposition activist who had told public broadcaster NHK that the journalist has been abducted by the Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate, and obtained the images from a person negotiating his release.

“We are aware of the video and are analyzing it,” Kishida said.

“Ensuring the safety of Japanese citizens is an important duty of the government, so we are making full use of various information networks to respond,” EFE news quoted the minister as saying.

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Government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said the government is not aware of any ransom demands at the moment, although the Syrian activist told Japanese media that the armed group will probably demand ransom in exchange for his freedom.

In the video, a man with unkempt hair and beard, wearing a black jersey with a checkered scarf, appears to be the journalist Jumpei Yasuda.

“Hello, I am Jumpei Yasuda. Today is my birthday, March 16,” begins the man in English who goes on to say “they” have allowed him to send a message to be published “freely”.

In the video, a little more than a minute long, the 42-year-old journalist also sends a message for his family saying “I love you my wife, father, mother, brother (…) I want to hug you, I want to talk with you, but I can’t anymore.”

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He concludes with a message to his country, saying, “When you’re sitting there, wherever you are, in a dark room, in pain, but there’s still no one. No one answers. No one responds. You’re invisible.”

Of the 54 journalists abducted around the world till December 2015, 26 are in Syria, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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