Japan seizes passport of journalist trying to travel to Syria: Reports

Japanese women read newspapers reporting about a video released online purportedly showing the execution of Japanese hostage kenji Goto by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, in Tokyo, Japan on Feb 1, 2015. Japan has seized the pas
Japanese women read newspapers reporting about a video released online purportedly showing the execution of Japanese hostage kenji Goto by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, in Tokyo, Japan on Feb 1, 2015. Japan has seized the passport of a journalist planning to travel to Syria following the brutal killing of two Japanese hostages by ISIS there, local media said on Sunday, Feb 8, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan has seized the passport of a journalist planning to travel to Syria following the brutal killing of two Japanese hostages by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) there, local media said on Sunday.

It was the first time Tokyo had taken such a measure, on the grounds that it was needed to protect the passport-holder's life, the Asahi Shimbun and other news reports said.

They said the Foreign Ministry on Saturday confiscated the passport of Mr Yuichi Sugimoto, a freelance photographer who had planned to enter Syria on Feb 27 to cover refugee camps, among other places.

But the 58-year-old Japanese, who has covered conflict zones in Iraq and Syria over the years, said he had no plans to enter areas controlled by ISIS, Kyodo News reported. "Tonight, an official with the Foreign Ministry's passport division came and took my passport," Mr Sugimoto told the Asahi. "What happens to my freedom to travel and freedom of the press?"

The passport confiscation came in the wake of the beheadings of journalist Kenji Goto and adventurer Haruna Yukawa by ISIS extremists.