Japanese man allegedly held in Syria sought to sell conflict footage

JIJI, Kyodo

A Japanese man possibly captured by the Islamic State militant group in Aleppo, northern Syria, sounded out a media organization before his departure from Japan about purchasing footage he would take, it was learned Tuesday.

In April, Kazutaka Sato, head of Tokyo-based news agency Japan Press, received an email from Haruna Yukawa, believed to be the captive, that stated he would enter Syria, Sato said. Yukawa asked in the email whether he could provide the news agency with footage, according to Sato.

Sato said that the email included information about Yukawa’s private military company but that he did not reply because he was not sure what the company was doing. He added he received no further emails from Yukawa.

The Islamic State is hostile to foreign journalists, Sato noted. The Free Syrian Army, another rebel group, has accepted foreign journalists, but its weakening power makes it difficult to ensure their safety, he added.

Mika Yamamoto, who covered the Syrian situation and was killed in Aleppo in August 2012, belonged to the Tokyo news agency.

Meanwhile, Yukawa’s 74-year-old father said he is seldom in contact with his son and was not aware of his occupation.

According to Shoichi Yukawa, Haruna left his home in Chiba Prefecture after graduating from high school and has lived alone since his wife passed away.

Shoichi apologized for causing trouble and expressed hope that his son will return safely.