National / Crime & Legal

Former Syria hostage Jumpei Yasuda sues Japan for denying him passport

Kyodo

Jumpei Yasuda, a journalist who returned home in 2018 after being held captive in Syria for more than three years, has sued the government over its denial of his request for a new passport, his lawyer said Sunday.

Yasuda filed the suit with the Tokyo District Court last Thursday, seeking cancellation of the Foreign Ministry’ decision last July not to issue him a new passport, according to the lawyer. The journalist argues that the ministry’s decision, which prevents him from traveling overseas, is “a violation of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of movement abroad.”

The 45-year-old said his passport was stolen when he became a captive of a militant group in June 2015 after entering Syria to report on the Islamic State militant group.

After returning to Japan, he applied for a new passport in January last year and submitted a plan to travel to India and Europe with his family.

But the ministry notified him of the rejection of his application on July 10 last year.

According to Yasuda, the ministry said its decision was based on a passport law stipulation that the government may not issue a travel document to a person if a destination country denies that person entry. He said the ministry told him he had been banned for five years from entering Turkey, from where he was deported back to Japan upon his release from captivity.

The ministry did not publicly disclose reasons when declining Yasuda’s request for a new passport last July, saying it does not comment on individual cases.

In the suit, Yasuda denied he had been banned entry to Turkey and claimed the denial of a new passport “restricts an individual’s freedom of making a trip abroad.”

Yasuda started his career in journalism in 1997 as a reporter for the Shinano Mainichi Shimbun, a local newspaper in central Japan, and went freelance in 2003 in order to report from conflict zones.