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Sunday 21 October 2018

Wife of missing Japanese journalist makes tearful appeal

Jumpei Yasuda, who has been missing for more than three years, is believed to have been kidnapped in Syria.

The missing journalist’s wife shed tears during a press conference appealing for his release (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
The missing journalist’s wife shed tears during a press conference appealing for his release (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

By Kaori Hitomi, Associated Press

The wife of a Japanese journalist believed to have been kidnapped in Syria has made a tearful appeal for his release.

Using her stage name Myu, the wife of Jumpei Yasuda told a news conference that her husband is no enemy of the Middle East.

My husband is not your enemy but he loves you very much Myu, the wife of missing journalist Jumpei Yasuda

She was speaking out publicly for the first time since Mr Yasuda went missing more than three years ago.

“I think he wanted to be the bridge between them and us,” she said. “So, I appeal to you, the people in the Middle East. My husband is not your enemy but he loves you very much. That’s what I beg you to know and understand.”

Myu, a singer, said she could not remain silent after the release of a video last week that showed a captive who the Japanese government said it believes is Mr Yasuda.

The bearded man, speaking in Japanese, said he faced harsh conditions and needed an immediate rescue. He described himself, though, as a Korean named Umaru.

Mr Yasuda, a freelance journalist, went to Syria in 2015 to report on a friend, Kenji Goto, also a Japanese freelancer, who had been taken hostage and killed by the Islamic State group earlier that year.

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It was the first time Myu had spoken out publicly (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

The last contact with Mr Yasuda was a message to another Japanese freelancer on June 23, 2015. In his last tweet two days earlier, Mr Yasuda had said his reporting was often obstructed and that he would stop tweeting his whereabouts and activities.

Myu said that Mr Yasuda told her he was heading to northern Europe before he left and that she last spoke to him also on June 23, 2015. He was supposed be back in Japan in July, she said.

“I suppose various factors must have led us to this situation,” she said.

“I heard from him that people in the Middle East value family, that their family bond is tight and they love family very much. So, I beg you to return my husband to us safely as soon as possible. There are so many — his family, relatives and friends — here in Japan who are waiting for the return of my husband.”

She said she hasn’t been contacted by whoever abducted Mr Yasuda and has not heard of any ransom demands. She said she calls the office of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe every day to thank him for his help and seek his continued support.

Myu has been married to Mr Yasuda for 10 years. Organisers of the news conference said she asked not to be identified by her real name.

Mr Yasuda started reporting on the Middle East in the early 2000s. He was taken hostage in Iraq in 2004 with three other Japanese but was freed after Islamic clerics negotiated his release.

Press Association

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