• Kyodo

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A 31-year-old man was referred to prosecutors Wednesday for allegedly preparing to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State militant group in 2014 while he was a student at Hokkaido University, Tokyo police and other sources said.

The police also sent investigative papers to prosecutors on four other men in connection with the case — a man in Chiba Prefecture who sought to travel to Syria with the Hokkaido student, a man who put up a recruitment poster for work in Syria at a bookstore in Tokyo, a scholar of Islamic law and a freelance journalist.

The five, whose names have been withheld by the police, are suspected of violating the Penal Code by preparing or plotting to wage war upon a foreign state in a personal capacity — the first such case in Japan. The police have recommended that prosecutors indict the men.

The former student has admitted to the allegation, saying, “I was planning to enter Syria and become an IS fighter,” according to investigative sources.

But the journalist, Kosuke Tsuneoka, 50, has told reporters, “No one had any intention of joining IS. There was no act that amounts to preparing or plotting for private war.”

According to the investigative sources, the former student saw the “help-wanted” poster at a bookstore in Tokyo’s Kanda district and contacted a person associated with the store around April 2014.

He was then introduced to Islamic law scholar Ko Nakata, 58, converted to Islam and began studying Arabic. He had planned to go to Syria with the Chiba man. Tsuneoka, at the request of Nakata, was to accompany them to provide news coverage.

He was stopped by friends from traveling to Syria, then rearranged his schedule to leave on Oct. 7 of that year, but the police raided his home the day before, they said.

The police referred the five to prosecutors after analyzing hundreds of documents confiscated in raids.

People convicted of plotting to wage war face imprisonment of between three months and five years.

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