A Japanese university student has been questioned by police about plans to go abroad to join the Islamic State militant group. The 26-year-old man, who is living in Tokyo on a leave of absence from Hokkaido University, was planning to leave Japan for Syria on Tuesday, but had his passport confiscated by police on Monday. He was questioned on suspicion of “preparing or plotting to wage war against a foreign state in a personal capacity”.

The man is thought to have responded to an advertisement in a second-hand bookshop in Akihabara, Tokyo, which asked for people willing to travel to Syria.

Police conducted raids at several locations in Tokyo on Sunday and Monday, confiscating items including computers and mobile phones. When the man, who has not been named, was questioned on Monday, his passport was confiscated by police. He had purchased an air ticket to Syria, and his planned departure was Tuesday.

The “help wanted” notice, which was posted in the bookshop in Akihabara in April, asked for people to travel to Syria to work, giving little in the way of further details. The bookshop has said it was uninvolved, and an assistant at the shop said they had no idea that the advert was connected to Islamic State.

The radical Islamist group contains significant numbers of foreign nationals, but this is the first reported case of a Japanese person attempting to join Islamic State. Yahoo News Japan reports that Islamic State’s members include 15,000 foreign nationals who have travelled to Syria to fight. These include fighters from at least 80 different countries.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the Japanese government “will steadily take measures to curb extremists”.

Sources: Japan Times, Yahoo JP
Image: Wikipedia (L’Américain)