New video of Japanese journalist missing in Syria

HONG KONG • A Japanese journalist who went missing in Syria three years ago and who is believed to be a hostage of terrorists has appeared in a new video aired on Japanese television.

Mr Jumpei Yasuda, a freelance reporter who often covered war zones, disappeared after travelling to Syria from Turkey in 2015, intending to cover the Syrian civil war.

He was believed to have been taken hostage by the Nusra Front, which now calls itself Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, a group known to capture foreigners for ransom.

Nippon News Network said on Friday it had obtained the video from a person connected to Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, who told the network that it had been recorded by the group that captured Mr Yasuda.

Another channel that obtained the video, ANN News, would not identify its source. Neither channel broadcast the entire video.

In the video, Mr Yasuda noted that it was October 2017, so it is not clear whether it reflected Mr Yasuda's current condition.

His hair greyer and his beard longer since his last video appearance, Mr Yasuda spoke to the camera against a black backdrop.

Edited jerkily, the clip appeared to be stitched together from multiple takes and did not show him speaking continuously. "I hope all of my family are fine," he said in the video. "I want to see you."

Mr Yasuda's wife Myu told ANN News that she hoped he would make it home soon. "His face looked a bit pale and he seems to have lost some weight," she said.

Mr Yasuda was last seen in a video in 2016, where he addressed his family while sitting behind a table in a room with white walls. It was posted on social media by a Syrian who said he was in touch with the captors.

Two months later, Japanese news organisations published a photograph showing Mr Yasuda holding a handwritten note in Japanese that read: "Please help. This is the last chance."

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 08, 2018, with the headline 'New video of Japanese journalist missing in Syria'. Print Edition | Subscribe