Japanese media unions call for release of journalist in Syria

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliates Minpororen (JFCBWU – Japan Federation of Commercial Broadcast Workers Union) and Shinbunroren (Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers’ Union) in calling for the immediate release of Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who has been held captive in Syria since June 2015. The IFJ and Minpororen call on the Japanese government to take necessary steps to assist with Mr Yasuda’s release.On March 16, 2016, a video  was released on Facebook and Twitter showing missing Japanese journalist, Jumpei Yasuda, a 42-year-old, freelance journalist. In the video Mr Yasuda is seen in sending a message to his family and making an appeal to the Japanese government to work for his release. Suspicions around Mr Yasuda’s safety and whereabouts surfaces in July 2015, after regular social media updates stopped on June 20.According to the Japan Times, Kyodo News reported that the Syrian man who posted the video online had received it from a Nusra Front representative, Al Qaeda affiliated group in Syria. When asked about the video, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said later the man in the video seemed to be Yasuda. He said that officials had “taken some actions, because securing safety for Japanese citizens is a top priority for the government.”Mr Yasuda went missing a few months after fellow Japanese colleague and friend, Kenji Goto was killed by the Islamic State (IS) in February 2015. Goto was killed by IS after the Japanese government failed to pay a US$200 million ransom.Minpororen said: "We demand the local hostage-taker to release him without further delay, as well as are relieved to confirm the survival of our colleague who works in the field of journalism.Unfortunately, a few people in society criticise his behavior of going to conflict zones,  however, we believe very few take the same action as Yasuda's respectable choice, seeking the truth even risking his own life.  The government of Japan must take every step to realize the release of Mr. Yasuda.”Shinbunroren President, Arasaki Seigo said: “Freedom of speech is observed as auniversal value in the international community. Journalists have the purpose to report the truth. They made YASUDA a hostage. That is a basic action and an act of defiance to freedom of speech and freedom of expression." The IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said:  "International reporters like Yasuda are the ones who are informing the world about the suffering of the Syrian people and their yearning to live in dignity and peace. We urge his kidnappers to let him go back to his family and friends." 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific