The Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it is investigating whether a Japanese national has been captured by the Islamic State extremist group in northern Syria.
The Japanese Embassy in Syria, which has relocated to Jordan, received information on Saturday local time that a Japanese was being held by the militant group, which operates in Iraq and Syria, according to a ministry official.
“We are collecting related information through (the embassy) using available channels,” the official said. “We are also analyzing information, including from the Internet.”
The official said the ministry is not aware of any ransom demands or claims of responsibility being made over the incident.
A video posted Sunday on YouTube shows a man lying on the ground being questioned in English by unknown individuals.
Asked where he is from, the man, who has dyed brown hair and stubble on his face, says he is from Japan and that his name is Haruna Yukawa.
A person by that name is listed as the chief executive officer of a private security contractor based in Tokyo, according to its website.
In the clip, which runs about two minutes, the man says he is there for his “job.” He goes on to say his occupation is photographer, but then adds “journalist half, half doctor.”
There appears to be blood on his face and a knife pointed at him during the questioning.
The Foreign Ministry official declined to comment on the man’s identity due to the nature of the matter. It has advised all Japanese in Syria to leave since April 2011.
Several years ago, a Japanese member of the French Foreign Legion was killed in action in the Middle East.
In November 2003, two Japanese diplomats, Katsuhiko Oku and Masamori Inoue, were killed in an ambush in northern Iraq.
In April 2004, three Japanese civilians were taken hostage in Iraq but were freed about a week later. They were captured by a group that identified itself as Saraya al-Mujahideen (Mujahideen Brigades).
In January 2013, 10 Japanese and six non-Japanese employees of engineering firm JGC Corp. were killed at a gas complex in Algeria in a clash between the Algerian military and the Islamist militants who took them hostage.
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