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July 18, 2018 - Updated on July 19, 2018

Concern about health of Japanese journalist held hostage in Syria

The Japanese phone and Internet company Nifty said in a note on its website today that a newly emerged video of Jumpei Yasuda, a Japanese journalist kidnapped in Syria three years ago, has fuelled hopes that he is still alive, although a comment has raised concern about his health.

Nifty, which has not posted the video itself, said it was filmed last month, is 15 seconds long and contains a comment suggesting that Yasuda’s health has deteriorated.


“If the video’s existence and the date it was filmed are confirmed, it reinforces our hope of seeing Jumpei Yasuda alive again,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of the East Asia bureau of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “More than ever, we urge the Japanese authorities and the international community to work to obtain this journalist’s release before it is too late.”


On 6 July, the Japanese TV channel Nippon News Network broadcast a video dated 17 October 2017 showing Yasuda in apparently good health and saying that he was “doing OK” and hoped “to see his family again soon.”


According to various sources, Yasuda was kidnapped in 2015 by an armed Islamist group, the same group that held three Spanish journalists who were kidnapped the same year and were freed after ten months.


Ranked 177th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, Syria is the world’s most dangerous country for journalists.