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Japanese Journalist Freed from Captivity in Syria


Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda is pictured at the local police headquarters in Hatay, Turkey, Oct. 24, 2018. (Hatay Governorship/Turkish Police/Handout via Reuters)

A Japanese freelance journalist is on his way home after more than three years in captivity in Syria.

Japanese officials in Tokyo have confirmed that a man who walked into an immigration office Tuesday in the southern Turkish city of Antakya is 44-year-old Jumpei Yasuda.

"I am happy that I can return to Japan. At the same time, I don't know what will happen from here or what I should do," Yasuda told Reuters on his flight home.

He said he had not spoken Japanese in more than three years and was struggling to find the right words.

The circumstances of Yasuda's release are unclear, but a senior Japanese government spokesman said Qatar and Turkey negotiated his freedom. The spokesmen denied a ransom was paid.

Al-Qaida-affiliated militants in Syria are suspected of kidnapping Yasuda just after he came to Syria in 2015 to cover the war.

He was also briefly held captive in Baghdad in 2004.