Japanese student allegedly wanted to join Islamic State

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI, Reuters, Staff Report

A 26-year-old university student suspected of preparing to join Islamic State militants in Syria had been planning to leave Japan for the Middle East on Tuesday, but police started questioning him the day before, an investigative source said.

The student, who is on a leave of absence from Hokkaido University and lives in Tokyo, was questioned Monday on a voluntary basis by the Metropolitan Police Department’s public security bureau. Officers also conducted raids at multiple locations in Tokyo.

The man, whose name was not released, had pulled out of an earlier plan to go to the Middle East in August, the police source said.

He is thought to have responded to a “help wanted” poster in a used bookstore in Tokyo’s Akihabara district.

The poster directed people interested in working in Syria to the shop clerk. It also said a monthly wage of 15,000 Chinese renminbi (about $2,400) was payable for people “not afraid of violence” to work alongside Uighurs.

The university student was quoted as telling an investigator that he was planning to join the Islamic State and to fight alongside the group. It is unknown if he has ever previously visited Syria.

He is suspected of violating a Penal Code provision that stipulates punishment by imprisonment of three months to five years for people who prepare or plot to wage war against a foreign state in a personal capacity.

The source said the man abandoned his earlier plan to go in the summer because of a disagreement with others in his circle and later began new preparations, including buying an air ticket to Syria. His departure would have been Tuesday.

On Sunday afternoon, police raided the home of Kosuke Tsuneoka in Nakano Ward, Tokyo, on suspicion the journalist had a role in mediating between the student and the group. Tsuneoka is reputed to be acquainted with an Islamic State commander.

“They raided his home Sunday, and confiscated everything that contained data, from PCs, USB memory sticks, cameras, mobile phones — just about everything,” Hitoshi Takase, a journalist friend of Tsuneoka, said Tuesday. “Mr. Tsuneoka thinks the police see him as having a key role in taking the student to Islamic State, or that they maybe want to obtain information about Islamic State from him.”

According to Takase, the person who put up the poster in Akihabara — whom Takase says he does not know — introduced the student and another male who responded to the poster, to Ko Nakata, a friend of Tsuneoka’s. Nakata, a visiting professor at Kyoto’s Doshisha University, allegedly brought the two men to Tsuneoka and asked him to accompany them on their journey to join Islamic State forces and write a story about it.

He said the other male gave up on the plan after his parents stopped him during his first attempt to head to Syria.

Judging from video footage of Tsuneoka interviewing the student on Aug. 5, Takase said the Hokkaido University student is not particularly knowledgeable about the activities of Islamic State or the situation in the Middle East, and was not particularly keen on fighting as an Islamic State combatant.

“He thinks his life as a student is like a kind of story, and explains he wanted to go to the Middle East because he wanted to put himself in a different situation,” Takase said. “He said he wouldn’t mind being killed in combat because he planned to commit suicide within a year anyway.”

Takase is a long-time journalistic partner with Tsuneoka, and assists him as a producer when Tsuneoka provides video material to TV stations.

On Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that the government will prevent Japanese citizens from supporting terrorist and extremist groups.

“In line with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2178 and as a member of the international community, we will proactively take measures to prevent terrorism in advance,” he said.

The resolution, adopted unanimously by the Security Council on Sept. 24, calls on U.N. member states to prevent the “recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping of individuals who travel to a state other than their states of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning of, or participation in terrorist acts.”

Referring to the allegation the student had been preparing to travel to Syria to join the extremist group, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that Japan “will steadily take measures to curb extremists.”

Citing the U.N. resolution, Kishida said the government is determined, in line with domestic law, to block Japanese nationals from traveling to Syria, Iraq or other countries in pursuit of terrorist acts, and from offering financial resources to terrorists and extremists groups.

Former Air Self-Defense Force chief Toshio Tamogami last month quoted a senior Israeli government official as saying that nine Japanese nationals had joined Islamic State. Suga has said the government has not confirmed this information.

About 1,000 recruits from a vast region stretching from India to the Pacific may have joined Islamic State to fight in Syria or Iraq, the head of the U.S. Armed Forces’ Pacific Command, Adm. Samuel Locklear, said last month.

The Hokkaido University student shares a detached house in Suginami Ward, Tokyo, with several other people. A man there said he got to know the student through the Internet and that they had lived together for about two months. He said he didn’t recall ever talking with him about the Islamic State group.

A neighbor said young people have lived at the address for several years.

The investigative source said the student apparently responded to the poster in the bookstore in the spring.

The public security bureau received a tip about the poster and launched an investigation, the source said.

On Monday night, the bookstore said it was uninvolved but acknowledged it had been targeted by the raid.

“We never imagined the ‘help wanted’ notice had to do with Islamic State,” a male assistant at the shop said.

He said a Japanese acquaintance of the shopkeeper had put up the poster near the shop’s entrance soon after the store, on the first floor of a building near JR Akihabara Station, opened in April.

The man gave the shop a phone number for people to call if anyone asked for information, and a few people inquired about it, the shop said.

Public security bureau investigators confiscated the poster, data in the shop’s PC and employee time sheets.

  • João Manuel Gomes

    Be careful, Japan.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Can’t see what the appeal of joining these thugs could be.. “Wow. I can go to some Third World area, wear a head scarf, shoot, and terrorize people. Maybe even chop off a head or two.” NHK had a piece about a group of these people in the U.K. going on about how democracy doesn’t work and western lifestyle needs to be replaced. These clowns were born and bred in the U.K., spreading their ideology from a First World city, safe from arrest (not to mention beheading) because their rights to free speech and religion are protected by the same system they claim to despise. Wonder what would happen if they tried to do the same under the “new order” they are praising? Youth really is wasted on the young.

  • itoshima2012

    This weeks The Economist states clearly that the most respectable scholars state clearly that the creation of the caliphate is a duty to the Umma so don’t be surprised that real Muslims want this one way or another. Plus I suggest everybody watches the Vice documentary on Islamic State. We are in for a big war… Even civil war in European countries with high muslim populations are close

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    itoshima, “…even civil war in European countries with high muslim populations are close…”, you base this claim on what hard evidence?

    • itoshima2012

      there’re over 3000 Europeans fighting with IS, they made an oath to IS and IS’s rationale is the Caliphate, the Caliphate is for the Umma, so for all Muslims, it is a must for every real Muslim. If you follow the demographics of big European cities (Rotterdam, Antwerp, Marseilles, Birmingham, Rouibax, Slough, London) and the way they’re turning it seems a logical outcome. No one can blame them, Muslims want what’s right for them, it’s not right for me so I’ll do whatever I can but the tide is turning and Muslims are becoming ever stronger. Marseille has between 30 and 40% Muslims, you’re blind if you don’t see it coming in Europe….

      • Firas Kraïem

        Your blatant racism makes you so delusional it’s almost laughable. You could say the same thing about Christians based on literal readings of many passages of the Bible, but that wouldn’t be as much fun, would it?

      • itoshima2012

        I’m no Christian, and please, show me a Christian country at the present that causes so much bloodshed!

      • rossdorn

        Take a globe, and look between Canada and Mexico…. and, by the way, not just at present.

      • itoshima2012

        So between Canada and Mexico people are killing in the name of faith? There are civil wars in the name of faith? People are executed in the name of faith? Women are stoned to death in the name of faith? People are beheaded in the name of faith? Am I missing something here or is it again the usual relativism that brought us here in the first place……

      • rossdorn

        Weill, in that case, next time ask the question that you actually mean to ask.
        And, if you want to correctly understand my answer, you might check under “sarkasm”.

      • itoshima2012


      • itoshima2012

        And, I’m free to not like Islam or am I not? In your caliphate maybe not but here it’s still a free country so fxxxx oxx

      • itoshima2012

        Let me say it in the words of Fienkelkraut: I watch the news; I read books and studies. I have never relied on my intuition.
        The multicultural model of society – either in French or American sense – hasn’t worked out. We’re heading towards the most violent societies. Part of the Islamic world has declared war on Europe, on her values and her civilization. This is reality. Concealing this reality with the imperative for impartiality and denouncement of xenophobia is ridiculous.

      • rossdorn

        “I watch the news; I read books and studies”

        You watch and read ONE VERSION of those things…. All you are interested in is to confirm your believes. Which by the way is what most people can informing themselves….

      • itoshima2012

        You don’t know anything about me so I suggest you keep you judgement on my person to yourself. I’m open to be challenged on what I said. Isn’t it true that a part of the Islamic world has declared war on Europe (the West)? Isn’t it true that a True Muslim must strive on behalf of the Uma for a global caliphate? Isn’t it true that Muslims are killing Kafirs? Isn’t it true that in many nations ruled by Sharia you either convert or you “will be converted” and/or pay your special “kafir tax” ( Dhimma allows rights of residence in return for jizyah)? Where am I wrong? Now I’m not that easily fooled and I know to distinguish between between people that mean good to me and my country and people that don’t. Tell me were I’m wrong and i’ll think about it. As long as all you can make are ignorant comments and insult people you’ll have no influence on my thinking

  • Rastawolf

    It must be all those virgins being promised… heard it was recently raised to 144 virgins if you’re killed by one of those heathen Americans. The old 2 for 1 marketing tactic, Allah, you sly fox.

  • Jae Hwan Jung

    Is the university student a Japanese? I cannot believe it. Why would he want to go to a third world when he’s living in a safe place like Japan? Also how on earth is he related to muslim?

    • itoshima2012

      We know that he is a conv, he is 26 and still only a student, not to bright the guy, but a low iq seems to be common for Muslims that go from 1st world countries to 3rd world countries to fight….

    • J.P. Bunny

      There was more about the student on the news. Seems this guy was a bit of a Forrest Gump, without the common sense. Said he wasn’t interest in Islam or religion, he just wanted to fight. Told people not to worry, as he will kill himself over there. With luck he will expire before he can reproduce.

    • Chameleon08

      Who knows, he might be going with a foreign English teacher from the area. Many of them are teaching here for different purposes and Japan is quite unaware of this.

  • ruwan

    yeah promote more islamic friendly stuff!!

    • itoshima2012

      No need for that, Islamic state, book haram et al are doing a great job to show us how peaceful Islam is!

  • tiger

    lunatics are without borders.

  • Jae Hwan Jung

    Islam is peaceful. Most muslims are also peaceful. It s just that some fools interpret Allah s words differently that they do heinous things. Destroy them Obama!

    • itoshima2012

      I wonder why so many people always come out with “Islam is peaceful” when it is clearly not. Calling the radical one sthat strive for a Caliphate and fight the kafir as fools is rather dangerous. They’re no fools, their food soldiers might be ignorant and fools but they’re leadership is certainly anything but. Islam is peaceful in countries were the percentage of Muslims is very low or in countries that are ruled tightly and even than, see Indonesia, there are many problems. Somehow a comparison with old Christian faith based wars might be accurate but that still will not change the fact that we face a rather bleak future as long as illumination and secularization has not reached the largest parts of the Muslim world. I agree that single Muslims are peaceful, but the system created and governed by the book is certainly not, otherwise, why would there be such a massive bloodshed?

      • rossdorn

        I just checked again, what you actually did ask:

        “…. show me a Christian country at the present that causes so much bloodshed!”

        That is what you asked, so I cannot quite understand what about my answer you dislike. Surely you are suggesting that it is wrong, do you?

      • itoshima2012

        ok, didn’t get your sarcams

      • AmIJustAPessimistOrWhat?

        You’re not peaceful, that’s for sure.

      • itoshima2012

        on what do you base this statement? How can you say that I’m not a peaceful person? Daily facts prove that this religion (as was Christianism in the dark past) is not peaceful and is not even trying to solve it’s problems. For examples, the Muslims in Serbia (Muslim genocide by the Serbs) was stoppped by the West (no Muslim country wanted to interfere…) the genocide on the Yazidis was countered by the West, now Turkey is standing by until IS has slaughtered all the Kurds (so for Mr Erdogan one problem solved) and says that the West needs to send ground troops but that Turkey will (until the Kurds are annihilated) NOT intervene. Look, I’m open to correct my wrongs but it looks very clear that Islam has serious issues and you can talk them “away” but the facts remain, Islam has problems and these problems concern nations in Europe with high Muslim populations. Of course not all Muslims are radical, far from it, but in the latest polls from Europe the majority of the Muslims interviewed felt Muslim first and British or any other nationality second. This is different in the US, it might have historical reasons, but Europe is in a very tight spot right now and can’t afford not to discuss the problems openly and to counter them head on.

  • Dead Terrorist

    Japan has over 120 million people.. it doesnt surprise me if idiots like this do exist