Journalist Jumpei Yasuda, missing for three years, was seen in a terrorist hostage video pleading for help, but under a different name and nationality.

Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda went missing in July 2015, after a series of tweets professing his intent to enter Syria via Turkey. While photographs and video have surfaced in the interim, including one of Yasuda addressing his friends and family back home in fragmented English, information regarding his whereabouts and the group that kidnapped him (widely believed to be the terrorist group Nusra Front, a former ally of Al Qaeda), has been sparse. This is the first online sighting of Yasuda since 2016.

In the video, Yasuda is flanked on either side by masked individuals equipped with assault rifles. The scenery around him is nondescript; a plain white wall surrounded with wild, overgrown grasses. Yasuda himself is unkempt, his uneven beard and hair peppered with gray. Facing the camera directly, he speaks in Japanese, saying:

“My name is Umaru. I am South Korean. Today’s date is July 28, 2018. I am suffering in unbearable conditions. Please help me immediately.”

▼ The video was broadcast on Fuji TV with the false name and nationality removed; the following video is the full cut.

As of August 1, the Japanese government has chosen to act under the assumption that the man in the video is Yasuda. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhide Suga has stated that “Guaranteeting the safety of Japanese nationals is our highest priority. We are currently utilizing every lead at our disposal so that we can respond with the greatest efforts we can provide.”

Yasuda performed journalistic duties in both Syria and Iraq up to 2013 without incident, and was intending to report on the Syrian civil war when he was intercepted by the terrorist group. In May 2016 he released an image with a written placard beseeching aid from the government, the last update on his situation before this current video.

“Please help me. This is my last chance. — Jumpei Yasuda”

There is currently no explanation as to why Yasuda used a false name and nationality for the broadcast, nor any leads on the location of the video. In March 2016, after the release of his video via hostage negotiator Tarik Abdul Hak, the Japanese government stated they were “unaware” of any ransom for Yasuda.

Source: Fuji News Network (1, 2) via Jin, Japan Times
Featured image: Flickr/brian.ch