March 22, 2016
Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers’ Unions
President Seigo Arasaki
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 government’s 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. Yasuda’s 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 Workers’ 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 criticized.
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.