Japanese man who reportedly tried to join Islamic State group arrives back home


Staff Writer

A 23-year-old Japanese man who was reportedly trying to join the Islamic State militant group has returned to Japan after being deported by Turkish authorities who captured him close to the Syrian border.

Kyodo News reported that the man, believed to be from Wakayama Prefecture, landed at Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture Thursday night.

Upon his arrival, reporters asked the man whether he wanted to join IS. He simply said, “no,” according to Kyodo.

Police plan to interview the man to get further details about his visit, the news agency said.

At a news conference in Tokyo earlier in the day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed a Japanese citizen was “questioned” by Turkish authorities.

Turkey’s Dogan News Agency also reported that a Japanese man, identified only as M.M., was captured late Tuesday night by Turkish authorities in the southern city of Gaziantep.

The man confessed during an interrogation that he had come to the district to cross the border and join IS, saying he had contacted a Syrian person by phone and had decided to join the jihadi group, Dogan reported.

Suga declined to comment on whether the man was trying to join the IS group, saying Tokyo was still verifying the reports.

Suga also pointed out that the Foreign Ministry is urging Japanese nationals not to enter Syria or the border area on the Turkish side.

“When we find any Japanese citizens who intend to enter Syria, we urge them in person to cancel their trip,” Suga said.

“We didn’t know about this Japanese person in advance,” he added.

Although many Westerners have reportedly sympathized with and joined IS, such a move by a Japanese citizen has to date been rare.

In October 2010, the Public Security Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department questioned a male Hokkaido University student who had reportedly planned to enter Syria and join the jihadi group.

Meanwhile, the English-language website of Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah carried a photograph of M.M. in which he is wearing glasses and kneeling on the ground with his hands in the air as a soldier with an automatic rifle stands beside him.

The Daily Sabah quoted the state-run Anadolu Agency as reporting that police had confirmed his contacts with IS by examining messages on his cellphone.

  • Ken Foye

    I majored in journalism in college, and we were taught to use the word “allegedly” in stories like this. Whether he actually intended to join IS isn’t 100% certain, and he hasn’t been found guilty by any court. So, for the Japan Times to report that he “tried to join IS” without saying “allegedly” is basically to pronounce him guilty.

    • At Times Mistaken

      I don’t think the Japan Times is making the claim that he “tried to join IS.” It’s the Dogan news agency and Daily Sabah stories that are highlighted in the article which make that claim and while the article doesn’t use the word “allegedly,” it’s use of the word “reportedly” (repeatedly, at least five times) indicate that.

  • Ostap Bender

    Why don’t they show his face? He doesn’t deserve the privacy.

    • Ken Foye

      His attempt to join IS is alleged, not proven. So, legally at least, he can’t be pronounced as “not deserving privacy.” He’s innocent until proven guilty.

    • Ken Foye

      His attempt to join IS is alleged, not proven. So, legally at least, he can’t be pronounced as “not deserving privacy.” He’s innocent until proven guilty.

  • Dave Barton

    Not to worry. He’ll be interviewed and told not to do that again and let go. He should have been arrested the minute he got off the plane like they do with other idiots who try to prove their macho and join the terrorists. No sympathy.

  • Nihondaisuki

    If this guy did indeed go there to join IS, I hope the Japanese authorities find out what or who around him convinced him to do so. Are there IS recruiters operating in Japan? If so, they need to be rooted out now!