Japanese journalist killed in Syria wins World Press Freedom Hero award

Kyodo

Video journalist Mika Yamamoto, who was killed last year while covering Syria’s civil war, has been named joint winner of the 2013 World Press Freedom Hero award, the International Press Institute announced.

Yamamoto, who worked for The Japan Press, a Tokyo-based independent media group, was an award-winning journalist known for her coverage in conflict zones including Afghanistan and Iraq. She was killed during clashes in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in August 2012. She was 45.

The International Press Institute also bestowed the award Friday on Marie Colvin, a veteran American correspondent for British newspaper The Sunday Times. She died in February last year in the besieged Syrian city of Homs at age 56.

The announcement of their awards coincided with World Press Freedom Day. Yamamoto and Colvin were honored for their bravery and professionalism in covering the ongoing bloodshed in Syria and other conflicts, the institute said.

In 2004, Yamamoto received the Vaughn-Uyeda Memorial Prize for contributions made by Japanese journalists in the field of international affairs. She was only the second Japanese national to receive the award, after Shiro Hara, who was honored posthumously in 2000 by the Japanese Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association.

Hara, a former city news editor and vice president of the Yomiuri Shimbun, dedicated his life to exposing social injustice. He died in 1989 at age 81.

The World Press Freedom Hero award, instituted in 2000, is given to journalists who make major contributions and display extreme bravery in the fight for a free press. Sixty-three World Press Freedom Heroes had been honored as of last year.