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Photographer says barring him from Syria sets a bad precedent

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@Stuart

You've pointed out that the public welfare WILL be harmed by having to pay for a ransom.

Actually, the ransom part is the lesser part of two points I made, the other of which is a demand to change foreign policy.

Just because he planned to travel there, does NOT mean he would be captured and held for ransom!

It would be a little too late if we waited until that happened, would it?

Relating to Abe's "provoking" actions. I don't have a crystal ball, so it's hard to say but if this financial aid was ONLY for Humanitarian aid, I would 100% support that, however, this is not the case.

Regardless of whether it is 100% humanitarian or not, it is what is decided to be the best foreign policy (national strategy). The terrorists demand Abe change his policy by grabbing a hostage. And the Japanese left support them in this endeavor. That is the greater strategic harm.

The ransom is actually the smaller problem (if we don't take into account the national strategy of never negotiating with terrorists). Governments are expected to occasionally use resources to cover for private mistakes. For example, if you surf in killer waves off Japan's beaches, people would expect the government to expend public funds and risk lives of rescuemen to save you when necessary. This "tactical" level of waste is generally agreed to not be a reason to restrict personal freedom.

However, things are clearly of a different class when foreign policy may have to be changed, just for the hostage. The latter is strategic.

He also has the ability to show information that others will never cover and since nothing is ever black and white (in war), showing other perspectives can only be a good thing.

Yes, but to do that, he has to take more risks.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If he's really that determined about going to Syria, all he has to do is go to Turkey and sneak across the border. This guy is probably not all that crazy (maybe even more than a little chicken in a very sensible way) about going in the first place and just wanted the Japanese government to stop him in order to get his name out there.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Stuart Hayward: Why is he being singled out?

A few news sources say this is the first instance in which the law has been applied.

Maybe the criteria is the amount of media coverage and how much trouble it makes for the government.

You can see there has been no confiscation of passports for women travelling to India, but those cases didn't turn into ransom / ongoing-media-event situations.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kazuaki ShimazakiFEB. 14, 2015 - 01:49PM JST

You've pointed out that the public welfare WILL be harmed by having to pay for a ransom. The government and Abe have already made it clear that that will NEVER happen so the "what if" analogy doesn't apply. Just because he planned to travel there, does NOT mean he would be captured and held for ransom! Relating to Abe's "provoking" actions. I don't have a crystal ball, so it's hard to say but if this financial aid was ONLY for Humanitarian aid, I would 100% support that, however, this is not the case.

Lastly, you said: It is at least defensible to presume that "staff" journalist would be more cautious than this freelance "adventurist" reporter? Why do you presume that? He happens to have a lot of experience on his side and has successfully documented many dangerous parts of the world. He also has the ability to show information that others will never cover and since nothing is ever black and white (in war), showing other perspectives can only be a good thing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Stuart:

So because I travel each year to other countries, to surf some extremely life threatening waves, the government can decide it's too dangerous, then confiscate my passport for an unlimited time and threaten to arrest me?

The law itself can, but if you die to waves in a foreign country, in generally only you die. The public welfare is not affected. Thus, so far, the Japanese government has refrained from doing this, because though it may meet the requirements of the Law, it would not meet the requirements of the Constitution. Using it this way would be illegal.

On the other hand, if this guy gets himself captured in Syria, he is used as a weapon against the Japanese government. Not only do they demand a huge ransom (which Japan pays out of taxpayer's money + bonds; which eventually comes from taxpayer money), they also demand Japan change its foreign policy, which is national strategy affecting the nation. The final blow in this equation is the Japanese people.

One under-appreciated difference (in the discussions here) is the power of the left-wing faction in Japan versus say the United States.

The left-wing faction in Japan historically does have the power to change policy. Planes have been deliberately crippled (domestically designed C-1 transport & imported/licence-produced F-4 and F-15s) and politically advantageous expeditions (such as sending something to Gulf War I) have been refused to appease these people. For 50 years, they have bitten back every effort to amend the Constitution. America's liberal faction has not been known to have this much power.

For better or worse, Japan's left-wing faction is powerful. And they have been quite vocal in saying Abe should not have "provoked ISIS" with his aid (an opinion supported by a good many JapanToday commentators). Ironically, though they are usually the vanguard in arguing against such "abuses" of power, in saying Abe should have changed his foreign policy stance (national strategy) for the hostages, they have agreed that becoming a hostage does affect public welfare. Since becoming a hostage also affects health (undeniably), both interlocks have opened.

For more benign interpretations of why Japanese corporations are not targeted yet, it may come down to the fine balance of need to know vs safety. It is at least defensible to presume that "staff" journalists would be more cautious than this freelance adventurist reporter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Turbotsat: Thanks again for providing the links. .. While those clauses mean the Japanese government’s confiscation of Sugimoto’s passport infringed on his rights, there are also clauses and laws that defend the government’s actions. Article 22 guarantees the right to travel, choose an occupation and change residence in any country, but it also comes with the caveat that “it does not interfere with the public welfare.”

(How is his traveling, interfering with public welfare? Is it simply based on a potential "what if" possibilities?)

Also, Article 19 of the Passport Law states a passport can be impounded “in cases where there is a need to cancel a trip abroad in order to protect the life, body and assets of the passport holder." ...

So because I travel each year to other countries, to surf some extremely life threatening waves, the government can decide it's too dangerous, then confiscate my passport for an unlimited time and threaten to arrest me? How can that be called democracy? Either way, if the government was doing this out of their concern for the well being of citizens, why wouldn't that law then apply to the many other Japanese citizens that are freely traveling there? Why is he being singled out? Is it a selective democracy?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If this action by the government is really only out of concern for the safety of Japanese journalists in the admittedly risky area, when can we expect the many mainstream/corporate Japanese journalists already in the area to be ordered home and/or have their passports confiscated, I wonder?

Since I am unconvinced that the government has no ulterior motive(s) in this case, I won't be holding my breath waiting for the TV station or wide-circulation newspaper journalists to be recalled. Or for additional corporate journalists to be prevented from going to the area, for that matter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stuart hayward: Turbotsat: Thanks for the links but I still can't find any information that states these particular actions are legal, can you?

(FYI and FFR, http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp is the official nonbinding English translation site of Japanese law, but the site says the Passport Act hasn't been translated, thus the Google Translate snippet.)

http://www.ibtimes.com/passport-confiscated-japans-isis-fears-prevent-journalist-traveling-syria-it-1810472

... While those clauses mean the Japanese government’s confiscation of Sugimoto’s passport infringed on his rights, there are also clauses and laws that defend the government’s actions. Article 22 guarantees the right to travel, choose an occupation and change residence in any country, but it also comes with the caveat that “it does not interfere with the public welfare.” Also, Article 19 of the Passport Law states a passport can be impounded “in cases where there is a need to cancel a trip abroad in order to protect the life, body and assets of the passport holder." ...

Article 19 section 4 of Passport Act of 1951 at law.e-gov.go.jp http://tinyurl.com/o6d4rln :

旅券法(昭和二十六年十一月二十八日法律第二百六十七号) 「旅券法」... 第十九条 外務大臣又は領事官は、次に掲げる場合において、旅券を返納させる必要があると認めるときは、旅券の名義人に対して、期限を付けて、旅券の返納を命ずることができる。... 四  旅券の名義人の生命、身体又は財産の保護のために渡航を中止させる必要があると認められる場合

Google Translate: Passport Act (November 28, 1951 law two hundred and sixty seventh issue) "passport law" ... nineteenth Article Minister of Foreign Affairs or consular officer, then in the cases listed, the passport when it finds it necessary to return his, against holder of passport, and with a deadline, it is possible to order the return his passport. ... Four passport of nominee of life, if it is recognized that it is necessary to stop the travel for the protection of health or property

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with presto345 and nigelboy.

I wrote in other thread but he is not a journalist but a radical activist if you read his blog and learn his past.

Sugimoto had been with his "journalist" friend from Mainichi Shimbun before he blasted a bomb and killed an airport security at Anman airport, Jordan in 2003. (And imagine how much tax money was being spent on freeing this idiot.) The thing is, though, the truth will be forever unknown as to why the journalist brought a "bomb" to the airport. "Sourvnier?" Really?

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2003/06/19/national/freed-journalist-to-return-from-jordan/#.VN4frIE8KrU

So I don't blame the government if they decided that Sugimoto is "too dangerous" to get close to ISIS at this very time considering the circumstance AND his radical background.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The problem is current situation in Syria is different from Bosnia Balkan war where both sides didn't kidnap journalists and aid workers. ISIS will take anyone as hostage and kill when they didn't get their demand. I believe Government is preventing from worst scenario out come and Government can not help victims who were captivity of ISIS hands. ISIS and local extremists in Turkey and Syria can be targeting Japanese nationals for any reasons.

On the other hand, I believe Government should let him go but warn him and his family about bad possibility out come and Government can't help anyone who was in ISIS captivity. Peoples should not blame Government for hostages were murdered by ISIS or other Islamist extremist groups. This ISIS is most barbaric murderer gang on earth. ISIS murder Muslims, Christian and anyone who does not belong to ISIS but they even murder their members who do not follow their order or escape from ISIS. So if he wanted to go there and then let him goes to Turkey and Syria border. However he shouldn’t expect any help from Government if he was kidnapped by ISIS.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Freedom of movement! Let's talk about that shall we! If this journalist was sent on his way to Seria, seeking fame or for what ever reason he claims, and then was snatched by the cowards in black pajamas, who do think is going to have to try and buy his freedom or let some other terrorist go because he wasn't using the brain that God gave him. The Japanese government! Japan is just trying to protect their citizens from being STUPID! On the other hand, if this journalist makes a declaration stating that if he's kidnaped, that the Japanese government is NOT obligated to help with his release! This guy sounds like a glory hound just trying to stir the pot!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Nigelboy: So it's your belief he no intension of going, just because he told the truth?

I understand you, but, Sugimoto looks like he wants attention, challenges his freedom to travel to a war zone that promises to execute Japanese. This is not about his truth.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

“I am concerned that this case might set a very bad precedent in this country. In the future, other journalists might have orders issued and their passports confiscated,” 

It is called New World Order just like V for Vendetta

0 ( +1 / -1 )

": So it's your belief he no intension of going, just because he told the truth?"

Truth? No. The guy simply wanted a coverage of himself.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Having two Japanese citizens have their heads so brutally cut off shocked the nation and the world once again. For this journalist to want to travel there so soon after two tragic deaths of his fellow countrymen ... well, I am not shocked that the government did not want a third brutal incident happening. Let the waters calm a bit before others are taken by the present storm.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nigelboy: So it's your belief he no intension of going, just because he told the truth?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The dude had no intention of going. If he was really serious about going . . . [read what nigelboy wrote]

Exactly. Why would he announce his intentions if it wasn't to create problems, to see how the government would react, would they wish him well, only warn him and remind him of what happened to his peers, or try to stop him? Getting attention is what he was after most of all. Jerk.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well at least you were only barred and not beheaded.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

who are these freaks telling people what to do

Who are you implying are the freaks really?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Turbotsat: Thanks for the links but I still can't find any information that states these particular actions are legal, can you?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Stuart Hayward: Article 13.

That's not binding, according to wikipedia, although info is scant. Even if Japan is signatory. Also, who's going to enforce it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights#Legal_effect

Even though it is not legally binding, the Declaration has been adopted in or has influenced most national constitutions since 1948.

More background on the general 'right to travel'.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_movement

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If his job is to report from crisis areas and the government seizes his passport, effectively eliminating his job then I hope they will properly compensate him, too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Goverments controlling peoples freedoms enough is enough, man things are getting out of hand, think about it in this day in age , scary people, we are slaves to these goverments , who are these freaks telling people what to do , the goverments want us to say yes master i do what you command and im happy with it, this reporter has the right to do what he wants

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. "

The Japanese government is committing an illegal action by taking away freedom of movement in and out of a country, confiscate his passport for an unlimited time and threatening to arrest. Please show us the laws that allows governments to do this to a law abiding citizens?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ Whatsnext: Good points.

@ Americanhonor: What some people may not understand is the role Japan plays in the world, and how that may be in conflict with what they have been told to belive in regards to their own constitution. To just go and say we will take your passport makes Japan look really weak in international eyes.

I understand the Japan constitution in regards to Article 9 and no war. But, this prevents Japan from being able to protect her interest abroad, and I don't mean by going overseas and building bases. Look back at the Entebbe raid carried out by Israel in 1976 when Palestinian hijacked an ElAl flight to Uganda. Israel was able to mount a raid and get the hostages back, with very little outside support. One of the main reasons was that they had the military capability, and more importantly the will of the people behind them. Japan doesn't have either of those in my opinion.

The SDF could be capable of doing something like a rescue, provided that they had support. A few years ago, a NATO led force with Danish forces were able to rescue hostages hijacked off the coast of Somalia back in 2012. Denmark doesn't have a vast military organization, but they are willing to work with coalition and put assets where needed to get the job done. Japan can't do that, part of it is their constitution, and their lack of will.

If this photographer were going on Japanese government business, or an embassy of Japan was subject to attack and they pulled their people back then I fully understand. But this is an individual, and not a JAL/ANA plane that represents Japan and he should be able to venture into a bad place, and if he is captured, he knows the consequences.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

banning travels can also mean that the govn't itself is afraid of the situation and can no longer ensure the safety of its citizens who have something with them to offer to the world.

why afraid if your ally the US and all others are already on the ground.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Another day in Japanese politics, another step closer to a Fasciest state! If this goose wants to go into a war torn country and have his head cut off they should let him. It's one less goose they have to worry about.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Americanhonor. I think you might be talking to a certain group of Japanese. I don't think the Japanese people have spoken on this. The government did as it wishes outside of law an confiscated the mans passport with the threat of being arrested. Not only does this create a chilling effect in media but it also separates the world more from japan as other reporters and photographers won't be able to report on wars abroad. This creates a stronger hold on media manipulation and government approved media and less independent sources for the Japanese news reader. I think you should discuss this further with your friends until coming to an easy quick conclusion. Thank you.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government wants to respect the freedom of journalists to report but decided it must fulfill its duty to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals.

Just curious what charge they would have laid on him if he didnt hand over the passport.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The dude had no intention of going. If he was really serious about going, he would of not followed Goto's precedence by announcing his intentions. Instead, he could of just entered Turkey and traveled inland towards the border.

But why am I not surprised that it's the FCC who's giving him the press time.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Ifhe wants to commit suicide, send him! Let him sign a bond that when he gets kidnapped and killed, Japan Government will do nothing. Then give him a one way ticket, send him! The fewer stupid people stays in Japan, the better.

Thankfully, there is no such thing as a waiver to support from your government. At least not in democratic nations.

The majority of Japanese have strongly agreed with their Ministrys actions. Theregore the people have indeed spoken.

Who is this "majority" you're talking about? All the 53% of the people who coted in the last "election"? I do think many people agree with the decision, though. There we agree. Tragic that the Japanese can't see beyond these shores.

Not to mention the trouble he would bring to the nation as a whole.

Individual first. Then nation.

Amazing to me that people are so gullible and obedient to whatever the authorities tell them. And the ones who don't agree almost never speak up. This 'meiwaku' BS they can stuff. People have the right to go wherever the hell they please. Confiscating passport does not occur in a democracy. Sugimoto would probably be welcomed in a more understanding nation. I wish him all the best.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

alphaape you really do not understand Japan then nor yheir present constitution, the majority of Japanese have strongly agreed with their Ministrys actions. Theregore the people have indeed spoken.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I am concerned that this case might set a very bad precedent in this country. In the future, other journalists might have orders issued and their passports confiscated, Sugimoto told a news conference on Thursday. The freedom to report, the freedom to cover news might be harmed, he said. For me, losing my passport means losing my job as a freelance photographer.

Nonsense! He is forgetting 2 Japanese were beheaded. Is his job more important than his own very life? Not to mention the trouble he would bring to the nation as a whole. I feel his comments are selfish, foolish and suicidal.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

One must think of the consequences first before taking a plunge into something. Yes, we have freedom in this world but one must remember it's not absolute. I think the government just did what it had to do.

I agree with this, but on the other hand, the government must understand that they are not absolute in ruling the people and can't deny them the right to travel, unless they have violated laws or some other legal matter. We should expect the government to enact laws and I understand the need to protect their citizens, but it comes to a point where the government must cease and allow the individual. If they are going someplace to participate in an illegal action then of course. But, if they are going, not at the behest of the government, then they should be left alone.

The real reason why they are doing this is because Japan is too afraid to come out and say that like the rest of the world, they are in the fight against radical Islam and that means fighting when necessary. If they don't want Japanese citizens going there, declare the area a war zone and ISIS enemy combatants, and then he shouldn't be allowed to go. But if they are not going to do it, then you just can't make "strong suggestions" on why one should not go there.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

No, we don't, but it should be his right to take that risk. If one wants to take that risk, it should be one's choice, not the government's.

One must think of the consequences first before taking a plunge into something. Yes, we have freedom in this world but one must remember it's not absolute. I think the government just did what it had to do.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The precedent set here is far worse than what's happened to this guy. As he mentions, where is the legality in this and what are the limits?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If he wants to commit suicide, send him! Let him sign a bond that when he gets kidnapped and killed, Japan Government will do nothing. Then give him a one way ticket, send him! The fewer stupid people stays in Japan, the better.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

The guy is not afraid to get beheaded.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Most Japanese people I spoke with this about agree with the ministry in this case, they consider these reporters thrill seekers or wanna ne heroes that end up causing problems for the citizens and taxpayers back home.

therefore the perception oversll here in Japan is in favour of the Ministry's actions.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

WTF, somebody slap me I cant figure out if I am currently in China or Japan!! Feels like China but the air is fine................Confiscating passports..............yikes!!

Seems like the kempetai are back & knocking on doors threatening people, nice...................NOT!!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

It is a dangerous precedent, but it is by the choice of the Japanese people. The Japanese government learned from this incident that people talk big about individual responsibility until an accident happens. Then, even if the person involves knows the score, many in the Japanese population won't.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I agree, the government should ban people going anywhere!

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

"For those of you still uninformed, I recommend a TED speech by the photojournalist James Nachtwey." - comments

An intelligent and resourceful recommendation. However, with respect: "not understanding at all the work freelancers do or what it does for the world at large."

Let us take one moment with this idea. The "freelance" has an employer (A). The "adventurer" is an independent risk taker (B). The "idealist-documenter" is a spiritually guided crusader (C). Please apply these to the specific case.

Sugimoto may well be A-B-C, however, what limitations on travel, after nationally specific beheadings, should Sugimoto be subject to? Is the seizure of his passport without cause or identifiable risk? Can Sugimoto sign away his citizenship for the period of his travel relieving any responsibility on anyone else? Is then Sugimoto Switzerland in the world of his commercial endeavor?

Do not think anyone wishes Sugimoto becomes another victim, but is Sugimoto using this as his own statement and political agenda? Caution is rarely criticized, if you wish to surf the tsunami should a waiver of all responsibility apply to relieve everyone of human compassion when you end up scrambled on the reef of ISIS beheadings?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

He said ministry officials and policemen visited his apartment in Niigata last Saturday and told him he would be arrested if he did not hand in his passport.

It says that he has covered war zones before, so I take it he knows the hazards of the job. I can't believe that some ministry officals went so far as to go to his door to pick up his passport. If I were him, I would dress like a baby, and while he is still in the news go in front of the foreign ministry building and protest about how they are treating Japanese citizens as "infants" and time for them to let the people "grow up" and make decisions as adults. He knows the risks and if captured, can't expect Japan and it's military to rescue him.

Let adults make adult decisions, and people need to understand that sometimes not everyone wants to just go along with the flow. I find it amazing that at times Japanese demand country unity in not making waves or causing an uncomfortable public image, and at the same time will not require people to do something like sing the national anthem before the beginning of the school day.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The best alternative considering the circumstances. Better he stay in Niigata and ski rather than become another video star...

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Japan has created a dangerous precedent. By conficating passports, journalist and others who really want to visit the area are going to lie about their travel plans meaning J-gov will have less info about their citizens. It also invites a black market for travel ( an opportunity for Japan's favorite middlemen, the Yakuza).

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Good thing about this guy is he is single so he won't screw up his family's lives if something happens.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I think anyone can travel to wherever want to, BUT in this case, if someone wants to travel to prohibited areas they should sign a waiver and/or declare in a video that the Japanese government assumes no responsibility for their safety. That would eliminate all doubts and demands by the public.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No, we don't, but it should be his right to take that risk. If one wants to take that risk, it should be one's choice, not the government's.

I sort of agree with you in a way, but when someone gets kidnapped by terrorists, even if they went there by their own volition, and said that their country should do nothing, the country still has to do something. It doesn't stay being about that individual person, it becomes about their nationality, and what ever happens reflects on the country.

I don't agree with what Japan has done to him, but I do think it's a little selfish and reckless on his part. Especially since I wouldn't put it past IS to hunt down journalists even in areas they don't control just to make a point.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Governments do things for some reason but make it look for a different reason. Simple, this guy is a freelance photographer not affiliated with any media organization in particular. The government fears that it will be exposed supporting ISIS, which is a continuation of the invasion of Iraq, through a big lie about WMD. Check these links.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=km5CJo9JkDI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h4-j9Jsjag

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Golly, beheading two Japanese nationals sets a dangerous precedent for other journalists also.

Perhaps you missed the fact that other journos lost their heads over there before the Japanese? How about that precedent? Was it not dangerous until it affected the Japanese?

Maybe he wants to make this all about him?

Maybe this is not about him at all, but a cause for concern. Can't you see that? What's next? People who want to go to Korea, prohibited from doing so? Might disturb the harmony and tranquility if bringing back disturbing new ideas?

...there's a little event called embedded journalists...

Embedded journalism is not journalism. It's propaganda.

Sugimoto's beef is a thin one; more for show than credible intent. Good luck to Sugimoto, the phone must be ringing off the hook to help this selfless defender of journalistic integrity.

I find it worrisome to read posts like kc's and realize that many people probably reason in the same, naive way in Japan. It's all about meiwaku and the greater good (read calm) for the country, not understanding at all the work freelancers do or what it does for the world at large.

For those of you still uninformed, I recommend a TED speech by the photojournalist James Nachtwey.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

I would say it's better to be safe than sorry. We don't want another Kenji and Haruna. Do we?

No, we don't, but it should be his right to take that risk. If one wants to take that risk, it should be one's choice, not the government's.

11 ( +17 / -6 )

I would say it's better to be safe than sorry. We don't want another Kenji and Haruna. Do we?

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

This is a pretty pathetic move by Japan. Not entirely unexpected, but pathetic nonetheless. Sugimoto seems to know what he's talking about and from this article it doesn't really seem he would venture into random daesh controlled areas.

Hopefully (but doubtfully), the world will finally see what kind of a joke of a democracy Japan is. I especially like these lines:

...they could keep it for an unlimited time.

and

...told him he would be arrested if he did not hand in his passport.

"We can do as we please, so now shut up citizen." This is the speak of totalitarian regimes. Sounds like action I would expect to hear from Russia, Iran or NK, not Japan, but I guess it's time to wake up, right?

5 ( +15 / -10 )

"A Japanese photojournalist whose passport was confiscated by the government ahead of a planned trip to Syria said his case sets a dangerous precedent for other journalists" - article

Golly, beheading two Japanese nationals sets a dangerous precedent for other journalists also. Apologies to Sugimoto. Sorry the beheadings have affected your travel plans. While journalists, the documenters of reality, are concerned, Sugimoto isn't the only photog traveling the globe. Maybe he wants to make this all about him?

If “The freedom to report, the freedom to cover news might be harmed,” is his concern, there's a little event called embedded journalists and that's been around since Bush/Cheney privatized war as a profit center for Halliburton. Where has Sugimoto been for the past decade and a half?

If Japan wants to establish a 'Journalist Class' in their Passport system that might help Sugimoto, but as far as Passports are understood, they are a universal identifier for the nationality of the individual using them.

Sugimoto's beef is a thin one; more for show than credible intent. Good luck to Sugimoto, the phone must be ringing off the hook to help this selfless defender of journalistic integrity.

-2 ( +11 / -13 )

@Burnung Bush Do you really think the japanese government does nothave a filter on travel data in the internet? Every country in the world does, but Japan respects everybody’s privacy?

@commanteer Look into some japanese history books. You will find that this behaviour has a long tradition in Japan. You will also find that this is considered the grand time of Japan. When no Gaijin were around or known, compared to whom, the Japan might not look all that favorable…

@Saulo That would require the ability to think, which is a great handicap in Japan politics.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

I say, give back his passport and a good luck hug, ad "you will need it, cause if you get caught, that is all the effort we will spend on you." Just like people who want to hike a dangerous mountain or surf a typhoon wave. If you are aware of the danger and still decide to do it you should also be ready to shoulder all fruits of your endeavors, be it the rush, a great selfie or a hospital bill etc.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

This is a violation of the most basic of human rights - freedom of movement. The man has committed no crime, and yet the government has decided to "imprison" him in his own country. This is frightening stuff - everybody should be concerned. Unlike East Berlin, Japan won't even need a wall.

This BS line about "ensuring the safety of Japanese nationals..." Laughable if it weren't so scary.

10 ( +24 / -14 )

He said ministry officials and policemen visited his apartment in Niigata last Saturday and told him he would be arrested if he did not hand in his passport.

Ministry officials went all the way from Tokyo to Niigata just to seize one passport?

How did they know he was planning to travel to Syria anyways?

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

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