TOKYO (AP) â€” Worries are growing approximately the whereabouts of a freelance Japanese journalist, last heard from one month ago in war-torn Syria, where reporting assignments have become among the most precarious in the world.
It is not known why Jumpei Yasuda, who has been reporting on the Middle East since 2002, has not been in contact. He may not have access to communications or if he has been taken captive.
Yasuda was taken hostage in Iraq in 2004, with three other Japanese, yet was freed after Islamic clerics negotiated his release.
p>Kosuke Tsuneoka, another freelance reporter, said Wednesday that he received a message from Yasuda in Syria on June 23, yet has not heard from him since.
"It is not normal that there has been no contact from him at all," Tsuneoka said in a telephone interview, adding that no one should jump to conclusions approximately Yasuda's fate.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry said it was aware of the reports yet has no confirmed information on Yasuda.
Three Spanish freelance journalists, who entered Syria separately from Yasuda, Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez & Angel Sastre, were moreover reported missing this week by a Spanish journalism association.
The four-year conflict in Syria has killed more than 220,000 people, & has been the scene of killings & kidnappings by Islamic State militants, including that earlier this year of freelance Japanese journalist Kenji Goto & Haruna Yukawa, who ran his own security company.
Most media organizations, including mainstream Japanese ones, have pulled out of Syria. The Japanese government warns against travel to Syria. It is not known how many foreign & local journalists remain held in Syria, although the number is likely in the dozens.
Yasuda, who reported from Afghanistan & Iraq, wrote a book five years ago approximately laborers in war zones. He worked as a cook in Iraq for nearly a year to research his book.
His last Tweet was sent June 21, when he complained that his reporting activities were often obstructed & that he would stop Tweeting his whereabouts & his activities. He did not donate details.
"What you see by going to places is limited, especially in war, & no one goes there, thinking everything can be understood by just being there," Yasuda tweeted June 18.
Alan Clendenning in Madrid, Zeina Karam in Beirut & Jon Gambrell in Cairo contributed to this report.
Follow Yuri Kageyama: twitter.com/yurikageyama
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Source: “Associated Press”