A Japanese journalist held hostage by Islamist militants for 40 months left for Japan from Turkey on Wednesday after being freed and said he was happy to be going home.
Jumpei Yasuda, a 44-year-old freelance journalist who was reported to have been captured by an al Qaeda affiliate after entering Syria from Turkey in 2015, was released a day earlier after three years in captivity.
Japanese diplomats in Turkey earlier confirmed that the released man was Yasuda, and Japan’s foreign minister said the journalist would be brought home as soon as possible.
Speaking to Reuters on board a flight from Antakya in southern Turkey en route to Istanbul, from where he flew back to Tokyo, Yasuda said he did not know what the future held for him.
“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,” he said. “I am thinking about what I need to do.”
He also said he had not spoken Japanese for 40 months and was struggling to find the right words.
In an earlier video released by Turkish officials, Yasuda gave thanks for his freedom and said he was safe.
“My name is Jumpei Yasuda, Japanese journalist. I have been held in Syria for 40…