A video footage of a man believed to be
Japanese journalist Junpei Yasuda, who has remained unaccounted for since he
entered Syria in June last year, was released online. As workers of the media,
we were relieved to see him safe, and strongly demand that his captors release him
as early as possible.
We could never tolerate the despicable act
of demanding money in return for human life under all and any circumstances. It
is a serious challenge to freedom of expression and the press ,which is
recognized in the international community as a universal value, to target
journalists whose mission is to report the truth to the world.
Japan has taken a clear position to place
priority on ensuring Mr. Yasuda's safety as it is, without a doubt, the
governmentfs responsibility to protect the Japanese nationals. We should not easily
accept his captors' demands. However, we ask that the government makes its
utmost effort in gathering and analyzing intelligence while considering Mr.
Yasudafs life as a top priority.
Meanwhile, we express our concern that
criticism is mounting over Mr. Yasuda's journalistic activities.
Mr. Yasuda previously worked as a reporter
for The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun daily and was a fellow member of the Japan
Federation of Newspaper Workersf Unions. He became freelance in 2003 because he
felt his reporting and other activities were restrained. He explained that journalists
must see what is happening in the battlefields with their own eyes and report
it. When he was temporarily confined by a militant group in Iraq in 2004, he
fully utilized his communication skills to win his release at an early date. He
subsequently reported on the Iraqi War, which sacrificed the general public.
He proactively reported wars.
"Reportage: Migrant workers at battlefields," which he authored based
on his experience of working at an Iraqi forces base as a chef, conveyed the
atmosphere of battlefields and the vanity of wars.
Mr. Yasuda's actions to respond to people's
right to know in return for his own safety should not be unilaterally
We reconfirm that it is our position and
the principle of journalism to oppose any violence and war and strongly hope
that the case will be resolved peacefully to bring Mr. Yasuda back to us.