Jumpei Yasuda is seen in this November 2018 photo. Photo: REUTERS file
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Ex-captive Japanese journalist sues gov't over passport denial

33 Comments

Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who returned home in 2018 after more than three years of captivity in Syria, 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 in July 2019 not to issue him a new passport, according to the lawyer.

The journalist argues 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.

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 to cover conflict zones.

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33 Comments
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Though I am sure many will cheer the government in this case, this is the denial of one of the most basic freedoms - the freedom to leave a country. He is essentially imprisoned in Japan, despite having committed no crime. This is really no different than putting up a wall, as the Soviets did in Berlin. Whether restricted by a wall or by a document, it's wrong and a violation of human rights.

8 ( +18 / -10 )

Some people need protection form themselves , he maybe one of those, or who pays the bill for his misfortune ?

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

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.

Looks like the law is the law. In that case, he should try to get the law changed, and not demand a special excemption for himself.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

He should not be denied a passport. He should also be made aware that if he gets into another captive or hostage situation, the Government will make no attempt to get him released.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

@WilliB

He said that he intended to travel to India and Europe with his family, places where he has not been denied access, so there is no need for a special exemption.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Turkey is a part of "Europe" - I guess the MoF people just saw through that ruse.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

He could easily go to the Middle East from another country.

The probolem is that if the government has him sign a statement in which he accepts full responsibility for his fate and that no ransom will be paid it puts the government in an awkward spot if he does get kidnapped.

Suddenly he's on YoutTube in an orange suit with a masked guy behind him holding a knife to his throat. He's then pleading with the government to save him. Meanwhile, in Japan, the media interview his wife and mother who tearfully ask the government to get him back.

Well, what does Suga say at a press conference. "Sorry, we asked him not to go and he signed a statement. So we're not going to help him" The government would look heartless.

No, I think Mr Yasuda should have learned from his three years in captivity.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

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.

He's not planning to go to Turkey -

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.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Tough call. Guy makes a living going into combat zones. But the J-govt doesn't want or need another hostage situation. To refuse him a passort does infringe upon his individual rights though.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

"if a destination country denies that person entry."

*a destination country ,** This would imply that if a destination country has denied him entry, the Ministry can refuse him a passport.*

*This is not his destination country or the destination country, but a destination country.*

*Turkey is a destination country, isn't it?*

Gary

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Some people need protection form themselves 

Not grown-ups - not in a free country. You might be the next one who needs "protecting." The government and the people need to toughen up here. If he is taken hostage, it's not on the government to get him out of trouble. Going into a war zone entails risk, and if chooses to do that, it's on him.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Tha Japanese nanny state thinks it knows better than its own adult citizens what's in their best intererests. Parochialism at its most obvious.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Craps. Become a Korean citizen as you broadcast or whatever and do as you wish. The Japanese wouldn't want to watch your

"Please help me, this is the last chance!"

0 ( +2 / -2 )

this is the denial of one of the most basic freedoms - the freedom to leave a country.

Actually, there is no right to have a passport. It is granted by the government as they see fit. A passport always remains the property of the issuing nation.

In this instance I can understand the Japanese Foreign Ministries decision. They have spent an absolute fortune of taxpayers money on this guy, and dont wish to spend millions more on him.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Commanteer - what makes you think this guy is grown up ?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Actually, there is no right to have a passport. It is granted by the government as they see fit. 

There is no right to free speech in many countries as well. That doesn't mean there shouldn't be. No free nation should be denying citizens freedom of movement, and the denial of the passport effectively does that.

I could go further and say that passports should be eliminated entirely (because why should people need permission to leave their country?) but that's another discussion.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Why don't we all chip in and buy him a ticket to Iran and let him go? I'm tired of him and his martyr complex.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Incidentally, not that it should matter in this issue of basic human rights, but this guy is actually a journalist. Some people want to portray him as a nutter, but he is a serious journalist trying to do his job - which involves covering war zones.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Turkey is a part of "Europe" - I guess the MoF people just saw through that ruse.

No,Turkey is not part or Europe.

By culture,religion and history.

They have technically a small portion of their territory within the European continent due to the attack of the Ottoman empire to the Byzantine empire.

The European Union in fact doesn’t want Turkey for political and cultural reasons.

Turkey is part of the middle east,and even though they don’t write arabic “anymore” they are closely related.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This person has cost the Japanese government a lot of money. Perhaps he should apply for citizenship in another country which will support his journalistic adventures.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There is another insight to this.

The arm of ISIS as with all terror organizations reach far and wide. He is exposing himself and his family once he is outside Japan.

Put that into perspective along with "legal" rights.

Legal rights are created and issued by governing entities. All such rights have policies and procedures as well as guidelines as to how they are applied and used. And they may be changed and altered to meet different situations and conditions by "interpretation" and judgement by a judge so empowered.

He can try... but may have much too much "risk" for all to bear at this time.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Give him a passport and make him sign an understand contract that his actions go against the governments wishes and he will no be extended any assistance if he falls into trouble.

case closed.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I do not know this journalist. But if he is a true investigative one in tough or war place he need to be supported. Truth is the most important thing and need to be promoted.

Comments about the cost to save him - assuming he was doing a journalist job - is just a shame, while he is risking his life for us sipping a cocktail in our sofa.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Comments about the cost to save him - assuming he was doing a journalist job - is just a shame, while he is risking his life for us sipping a cocktail in our sofa.

If people are worried about their tax money, that is a shame. If they think Japan is helping to arm terrorists, then that is a valid concern.

As far as we are told, however, no money was exchanged for his release either time. More likely it's just the government is embarrassed to have to ask for other countries' help repeatedly.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yet another violation of human rights by the Japanese Government.

The executive really think that human rights are more like suggestions than actual rights.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

He's of age,so stop babying him as this country likes to do.Tell him he's on his own if he gets captured again.Plain and simple.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"I could go further and say that passports should be eliminated entirely (because why should people need permission to leave their country?)"

Utopia; will never happen.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

He should also be made aware that if he gets into another captive or hostage situation, the Government will make no attempt to get him released.

It isn't his choice to call the Japanese government to ask for money. The kidnappers are the ones forcing him to plea for help for a ransom.

As far as we are told, however, no money was exchanged for his release either time. 

The first time I don't know but the 2nd time the kidnappers were paid off by another country I heard.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The first time I don't know but the 2nd time the kidnappers were paid off by another country I heard.

I did read that at the time too but when I looked it up now it just says Turkey helped get him released but denies money was paid.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No need for the government to hide behind a non answer. Just say there are denying passport due to past captivity issues and inability to prevent it from happening again.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Legal rights are created and issued by governing entities.

That is correct. But basic human rights are considered to be universal by thoughtful people, and to supersede legal rights on a moral basis. Otherwise, you can justify any oppressive regime in the world by simply saying "the law is the law." So, while the government may have a "legal" basis for denying a passport, they do not have a moral basis.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Interesting issues being discussed here.

There are differences between morals and ethics and legality as there are differences between human rights and legal rights. There is a third right called life's right. But putting that aside, the issue here is divided between human rights based upon ideals derived from morals and legal rights determined by each society (in this case a country) for the benefit of the sanity of relationships of people within that society often aligned with social ethics and sometimes contrary to ethics within that society, but not necessarily of idealistic or moral standards and expectations. Morals are more individual value based and ethics are social value based with laws (or legality) is based upon social convenience and order based primarily for the stability and survival of that society.

The problem is that moral rights are not enforceable, except possibly in a religious setting by a powerful leader that can put it into physical action such as in Iran. Ethics related rights are often enforced by social acceptance and denial. Legal rights are dubious because most laws are designed to "prevent" actions not desirable for a certain society or to "punish" any undesirable action, often by policing powers or by actual physical force. Probably the only identifiable laws (legal form) that actually gives out rights legally are usually written in the form of a constitution.

Here, the issuance of the passport has been brought up as a constitutional issue which seem to contradict a legal (interpretation) policy (not law) designed to control misuse of rights given in the constitution. If in the USA it will probably go to the Supreme Court for a decision.

In any case, the restriction is based upon time. Not sure if the trip planned must be so immediate when a few more years will allow the issuance of that passport.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This man has caused enough trouble for himself, his family and his country already. He should be confined to Japan for the time being at least.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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