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Journalist freed from Syria returns to Japan to relief, rice balls and criticism

57 Comments
By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Elaine Lies

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57 Comments
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Dear Japanese Foreign Ministry: Do not issue this guy a passport or he will go back to doing the same thing that got him captured in Syria...

-10 ( +17 / -27 )

If he wrote a book just because he went to Iraq as a cook, you can imagine what he's planning now, books, movie deals, tours etc. He's thinking about the cash. I agree that he should make a public apology and pay back the ransom. Why the hell should my tax dollars be used to help pay for his reckless adventurism.

-13 ( +12 / -25 )

"After he returns, I want him to hold a news conference to apologise and work to pay back the ransom. I don't need to hear his opinion," tweeted a person with the twitter handle "kawako".

The Japanese government has denied paying a ransom for Yasuda's release.

Someone obviously did! I would love to know who and how much his life was worth!

8 ( +11 / -3 )

please don't treat this guy like a hero. He has already cost people too much money bailing out of his situation because he was poking his camera where it didn't belong. This will encourage others who can't get real jobs to do the same...

-11 ( +12 / -23 )

He should go to prison in Syria for breaking the law. He entered the country illegally.

Qatar paid his ransom by the way, in exchange for diplomatic favors from Japan.

-7 ( +13 / -20 )

In a society where people bully individuals who don't conform and journalists don't investigate and support the system, you can't expect much sympathy for a journalists trying to do his job and acting on his convictions.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

@ Bush - thanks for the information now I'm not quite so mad but my opinion hasn't changed

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Someone has to go and report what is happening, factual reporting has a price. Unless you are happy to repeat the reports generated by other countries reporters. As for any ransom compared to what this government spends daily with no return think that's a moot point.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

Love the picture and headline...

”returning to rice balls made by mommy”

Cmon guys

5 ( +7 / -2 )

And as you sit there mindlessly on the train reading the news it never occurred to you to what extent journalists go to so that there can be some semblance of truth for posterity. Throw stones while you see and read the news from the comfort of your mundane world while there is real suffering all around. Yes, he did it on his own, and he accepted and suffered the consequences, but the real issue is the protection of journalists and aid workers in a war zone. And to Kawako, would you be saying the same thing to Sawada, Kyoichi and his Pulitzer prize?

17 ( +20 / -3 )

@burningbush...thank you. Did a quick check and got the following.

http://www.the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004916172

ISTANBUL — Qatar paid a ransom for the release of journalist Junpei Yasuda, according to a Britain-based human rights watcher.

The Yomiuri Shimbun was told this by Rami Abdel Rahman, chief of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who said the ransom had been $3 million (about ¥337 million).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

But the problem of paying this money is with its usage.It will be used to finance destruction against innocent peoples wherever they see fit. Saving one life to cause more loss of life is a diminishing marginal returns fact.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Welcome home, Yasuda-san! Three years with no rice-ball is hard. He is brave enough to go into war-zones, and report the reality of war, unlike the heavily censored Western media. Will his wife allow him to return again, however? lol! An unbelievable and amazing adventure, and I am expecting the book and Hollywood movie of this coming out!

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

If you are a journalist in Gaza you have a high chance to be shot in the head or leg by Israelis just for reporting it. But without these brave reporters the world wouldn’t know of Israel’s war crimes. Same as the situation in Syria, Yemen etc.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

The Yomiuri Shimbun was told this by Rami Abdel Rahman, chief of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who said the ransom had been $3 million (about ¥337 million).

The observatory, a private organization, is monitoring the Syrian civil war. Abdel Rahman said he obtained the information from multiple reliable sources, adding that Qatar intended to demonstrate its contribution to saving a Japanese citizen’s life to the international community.

http://www.the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004916172

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is an anti-Assad propaganda mill run by one guy from a semi-detached house in suburban Coventry in England and sponsored by the British government. It's simply unreliable:

https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/06/06/syrian-observatory-for-human-rights-funding-sohr-uk-government/

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So who should report on these conflicts? Who is acceptable to risk being kidnapped or killed? Anyone from anywhere else, as long as 'your taxes' aren't being used to help them, right?

None of you mind reading the news as long as you don't have to think about who is delivering it to you. How pathetic is that.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

The guy is lucky to be alive , has been home for less than a day, just met his family and already the worst of the Japanese / human nature is on display in some of the posts above ie. I wanna hear his apology, don,t want my taxes wasted on his ransom etc..... how low can you get?

Why does he need to apologize to you , are you his boss, somehow his superior? And ignoring the fact Qatar paid his ransom...do you also get this upset with J- govt wasting millions of your taxes daily ? Demanding apology from Abe too? Disgusting.

14 ( +19 / -5 )

Why so many negative comments over the past few days about Yasuda, in my opinion a brave man doing a respectable job in what's mostly an honourable profession, trying to discover the truth and report it from a war zone that's been world news for years? Could it be that the negativity might have something to do with the currently popular (in right-wing circles, anyway) anti-media message emanating from the USA, and with the constant trashing of the profession of reporting that comes from the president down? Of course there are other reasons for it, people who care more about their taxes than a man's life, people who imagine it's all part of some self-serving get-rich plan (really?) people who don't really care about finding out what's going on in the world.

There are some professions which carry a greater amount of risk than others. And for those concerned about the money, don't worry - Qatar has taken care of it.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Regarding this journalist Yasuda, I am a mountain journalist. I climb very dangerous highest cliffs of all over mountains that prohibit to enter in. When I got very difficult troubles up there, please send me rescue teams and use as much taxpayers money as possible to save me. When I survived, please everyone happily say "Welcome back". I am a mountain journalist.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

mu-da

In a society where people bully individuals who don't conform and journalists don't investigate and support the system, you can't expect much sympathy for a journalists trying to do his job and acting on his convictions.

So profound and yet so true. Excellent post!

If you are a journalist in Gaza you have a high chance to be shot in the head or leg by Israelis just for reporting it. But without these brave reporters the world wouldn’t know of Israel’s war crimes. Same as the situation in Syria, Yemen etc.

EXACTLY!

The guy is lucky to be alive , has been home for less than a day, just met his family and already the worst of the Japanese / human nature is on display in some of the posts above ie. I wanna hear his apology, don,t want my taxes wasted on his ransom etc..... how low can you get?

They're still digging....

Why does he need to apologize to you , are you his boss, somehow his superior? And ignoring the fact Qatar paid his ransom...do you also get this upset with J- govt wasting millions of your taxes daily ? Demanding apology from Abe too? Disgusting.

Brilliant analysis my friend! As usual!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Dear Japanese Foreign Ministry: Do not issue this guy a passport or he will go back to doing the same thing that got him captured in Syria...

Perhaps Japan should just surround itself with barbed wire and be like North Korea, shooting anyone who tries to leave? Freedom of movement is a basic human right. Unless you think saving a few tax dollars is worth giving up your freedom.

Regarding this journalist Yasuda, I am a mountain journalist. 

If the government was providing unreliable details about a dangerous volcanic mountain, and this mountain journalist was exposing the truth that people need to know, then by all means rescue him.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@kwatt

What a ridiculous analogy. There's nobody at the tops of mountains suffering like the citizens of Syria.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

@ReformedBasher

I'm not talking about mountains in Syria. Any dangerous mountains overseas.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

If you are a journalist in Gaza you have a high chance to be shot in the head or leg by Israelis just for reporting it. But without these brave reporters the world wouldn’t know of Israel’s war crimes. Same as the situation in Syria, Yemen etc.

Exactly. Thing is, the vast majority of naysayers -here in japan and abroad- don't read/watch nor care about what goes on in the ME/elsewhere. They don't 'need' good journos/journalism, they watch current affair programs, local news and other silly programs. What happens in the ME is just not on their radar.

It was reported that Qatar had paid the ransom as early as Wed night (remember seeing it on the 11pm yomiuri tv news) yet a couple of days later ppl are still whingeing 'probably paid it with taxpayer $'. That's the world we live in, anger fueled by ignorance.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

This tone of condemnation is often fuelled by inappropriate comments from positions of power.

Case in point - Learned secretary Suga said publicly on Tuesday that he will report the announcement to 彼の女性 - kare no josei - which can only be interpreted as "His Women". In Japanese it is extremely disrespectful language, esp in light of the situation. It demeans both Yasuda and his wife and has a strong air of contempt.

No wonder the otherlings are squawking.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I have just read that the State of Qatar paid Yasuda-sans US $3 million release fee to the militants. Thank-you King of Qatar. Japanese people will never forget this kind gesture of Qatari people. Another nation that is a true friend of Japan.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Damn, too many foreign posters who think they know better than the Japanese.  Obviously you don't understand the Japanese culture and why he is not getting a hero's welcome.  I like Japan and the way its culture is and if you don't like how it conducts its business why are you here? You are a problem, stop trying to make Japan into a western country.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

At least he made it home alive. I'm sure he enjoyed the rice balls too.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The Japanese government has denied paying a ransom for Yasuda's release.

Shows how much citizens lives are valued.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

And now, after all this, the poor bugger has to quickly get back into the strict rules of Japanese society! In a strange way, he probably had more freedom when he was being held prisoner.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

This is the typical popular reaction towards fellow citizens who have been in the media spotlight for something negative mess and required government assistance (if not money). It's the same every time.

Personally I think it's sad he'll have to deal with this as well as PTSD and find out like Frodo "there's no going back, not really" to the pleasant home country and community, the memory of which sustained you through hardship (simple things, the taste of onigiri etc) but can never again exist for you as it was before.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

And now, after all this, the poor bugger has to quickly get back into the strict rules of Japanese society! In a strange way, he probably had more freedom when he was being held prisoner.

@kawabegawa198: Agreed! Being a tortured prisoner of an Islamic terrorist organization and forced to convert to Islam is still far better than being in Japan. And people live here our of choice too, do they have no shame?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Onigiri made by his mother sounds nice, but I bet what the man really wanted was yakiniku or a nice juicy tonkatsu

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Psyops:

Expressing our 'foreign' opinions about the release and homecoming of a Japanese citizen is not 'trying to make Japan into a Western country'.

Nobody on this comments page is more proudly Japanese than Ganbare Japan! commenting right above you, and he doesn't agree with you.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This story should be cause for celebration. A pity to see so much negativity. If no reporters and photographers were prepared to go to dangerous war zones, the world would have much less insight into what is happening there. Maybe he has some personal issues he is working through by doing this work as well, but I applaud his bravery. I do feel for his wife and parents of course. But come on people, lighten up and be happy for the guy and his loved ones. As for a ransom, well, that's another matter and a difficult one to know the best solution. War is an ugly business at best, and if a ransom was paid, that won't be the worst thing that happens in Syria this week.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I have just read that the State of Qatar paid Yasuda-sans US $3 million release fee to the militants.

Money which will now be used to kill innocents. Well done Yasuda-san!

(Slow hand clap)

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

Regardless of whther he should have been there or not, this dude was put through hell and it will take a long time to come to terms with that ordeal for himself. Jsut looking at him I see a scarred and broken man,

9 ( +9 / -0 )

@ dbsaiya - you may want to step down off that high horse. As was pointed out earlier, he helped to finance the very Terror and destruction that he wanted to report on. So how many people will die so that he could get a Nobel Prize?

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

I'd be curious to know if all the nationalists criticizing him for being reckless overseas, would also criticize Abe for wanting to revise the constitution to allow soldiers to go overseas, some might say recklessly.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

1: Send the bill of all the money spent for him.

2: Take away his travel document.

3: If he still wants to put Japanese tax payer's money in harm's way, put him in jail.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Obviously you don't understand the Japanese culture and why he is not getting a hero's welcome. I like Japan and the way its culture is and if you don't like how it conducts its business why are you here? You are a problem, stop trying to make Japan into a western country.

Nobody in the posts above suggested a hero,s welcome..you brought that up. Also no one above is trying to make Japan into a western country but people are commenting on the lack of compassion and decency on the part of some posters yourself included who demand apologies and such...to paraphrase you , maybe " you are the problem" ..giving humanity a bad name.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@ Michael Jackson

It’s because commenters are emoting instead of using their higher cognitive functions like logic and reason. As is wont for our time.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This tone of condemnation is often fuelled by inappropriate comments from positions of power. Case in point - Learned secretary Suga said publicly on Tuesday that he will report the announcement to 彼の女性 - kare no josei - which can only be interpreted as "His Women". In Japanese it is extremely disrespectful language, esp in light of the situation. It demeans both Yasuda and his wife and has a strong air of contempt.

Suga is being an arrogant a$$ as always.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Welcome home, Yasuda-san! Three years with no rice-ball is hard. He is brave enough to go into war-zones, and report the reality of war, unlike the heavily censored Western media. Will his wife allow him to return again, however? lol! An unbelievable and amazing adventure, and I am expecting the book and Hollywood movie of this coming out!

He was silly enough to go when it was illegal to do with, professional journalists had the brains not to, don’t treat him like some hero. His actions are dangerous and a liability. What exactly was he going to expose that the world doesn’t know about the horrors of Syria? We knew the situation back in Syria back than and even now. NHK is just as censored and biased as any major media broadcaster. Hollywood movie, lol! Probably a Japanese book deal at best.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

since he is an islamist now, they better cancel all his travel docs and watch him very carefully.. or better yet just ship him back...

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

@ Michael Jackson

Speaking of horses… You are putting the card in front of the horse and call the kettle black. War is business, War is about resources and the war economy, both immensely profitable and currently by far the largest economy on the planet. Religion, freedom, democracy are just propaganda terms for justification and to attract cannon fodder. To blame a journalist for aiding to finance terror and destruction is ridiculous and indicates a rider on a very high horse. An ivory tower in fact.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Torture abroad and criticism at home? Is this what you get for reporting the truth?  This brave and possibly reckless individual knew the risks involved but went anyway. It seems he felt that a truth needed to be told and that he had the power to tell it. The fact that he survived this ordeal speaks to his will and determination. And gives him an opportunity to share his "real" experiences of what life is like in these war-torn places.

S

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Without the guts and bravery of journalists like Yasuda-san, the stories of the victims of this war, and others, would go untold. Those who criticise them are beneath contempt.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

what guts and bravery? he was treated well, converted to islam and seem to have lived quite well , bonus he gets book deal, his money paid by qatar ( probably a backdeal on jp gov ) and on taxpayer.

what stories has he told exactly that affected anything or anyone ? them letting him go , seems highly suspicious and better be very well looked into.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Dear Japanese Foreign Ministry: Do not issue this guy a passport or he will go back to doing the same thing that got him captured in Syria...

From my understanding they didn't, but he obtained a Korean passport instead. Is that true?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

what guts and bravery? he was treated well, converted to islam and seem to have lived quite well , bonus he gets book deal, his money paid by qatar ( probably a backdeal on jp gov ) and on taxpayer.

what stories has he told exactly that affected anything or anyone ? them letting him go , seems highly suspicious and better be very well looked into.

Exactly. Everyone is quick to say "hero" but what has he done other than make angry tweets towards Japan and then turn around and beg them for this life? We will have to pay for this one way or another.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I'm glad to learn he is saved.  Hope this experience serves him well in carefully reflecting his next consignment. It is highly likely he will repeat himself with an outside offer, and may not be fortunate next time around.  Reckless acts brings serious repercussions. It is not worth to gamble life with evil doers. Take this opportunity to provide insightful alternatives to those who are lurking such high risk in journalism.  And, bear in mind Japan now is in monetary debt with Qatar.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Part of Japanese such as Nationalist denounce captivity journalists as "annoyance" ”Anti-Japan" "self-responsibility" "what goes around comes around".

It is same to past Japanese hostages cases.

They cannot understand difference of journalism and thoughtless adventure.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Damn, too many foreign posters who think they know better than the Japanese.

How can you presume to speak for all Japanese? Your opinion is yours alone. Some Japanese may share it. But to assume your opinion is the proper opinion of all Japanese is quite an egocentric approach.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"He feels he has a responsibility to explain things to you as much as possible," she added, but said this would have to wait until he had undergone medical checks.

Don't really think he needs to explain anything to any of us. As for Qatar paying his ransom, that is between that country and Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Brave guy wishing to seek to report what isn't normally accepted as reportable within Japan. Japan needs more Journalists like him, to step outside of the comfort box, and take on the established rules and question what is going on, either here or there, regardless whether or not we think of him in the wrong for doing so.

For his own case, perhaps he will be suffering PTSD, and his Wife and Family will, if that's the case, find it very hard going forward. They need support, though whether or not that is available in Japan, is another matter.... and is something the current Premier - Abe, needs to consider with his drive to change the Constitution to allow more direct armed forces engagement, so maybe, this one, sole Journalist has shone a light into Pandora's box for the future decision making that's on the lines here in Japan for Politicians to decide upon.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"After he returns, I want him to hold a news conference to apologize and work to pay back the ransom

ah so there was a ransom paid, I bet the J taxpayer had to front the bill! they need to make a new law that anybody that want to go into a war zone they should be responsible and or their employer for any ransom should they get kidnapped. ISIS is now going to go after every J national they can get their hands on now since they know theres a payday in it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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