The Tokyo District Court has ruled it illegal that the government refused to reissue a passport for journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who had been taken captive after entering Syria.
In the ruling issued Thursday, presiding Judge Yukio Shinada canceled the government's denial of a new passport for Yasuda, saying that the denial was illegal because it represented an abuse of the government's discretionary power.
Yasuda, the 49-year-old freelance journalist who filed the lawsuit, was taken captive by an armed group for about three years and four months after entering Syria from Turkey for news coverage in 2015.
After returning to Japan, he applied for his passport to be reissued in January 2019. But the Foreign Ministry denied his request, stating that he had been banned from entering Turkey for five years.
"Freedom to travel abroad is a basic human right," Shinada said, adding that only reasonable and unavoidable restrictions are acceptable.
The ministry denied Yasuda's request for a new passport based on a provision of the passport law. The judge said the aim of the provision is to maintain relations of trust between Japan and countries that issue entry bans against Japanese nationals.
Shinada concluded that the relationship of trust between Japan and Turkey will not be damaged even if Yasuda travels to countries other than Turkey and its neighbors.
"I think I can be pleased with the cancellation of the refusal, but it's a problem that (the government) can do whatever it wants at its discretion," Yasuda told a news conference.