"We have confirmed the safety of Jumpei Yasuda who has been detained since 2015 in Syria. We've been informed that he looks healthy at first glance," Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono told a press briefing.
The Japanese journalist who was held hostage by militants in Syria for 40 months told Reuters on Wednesday he was “happy” to be going back to Japan, adding he was uncertain about what to do next.
“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,” Jumpei Yasuda told Reuters on board a flight from Antakya in southern Turkey en route to Istanbul, from where he is due to fly back to Tokyo.
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.
“I am thinking about what I need to do,” he said.
He also said he had not spoken Japanese for 40 months and was struggling to find the right words.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has also said late Tuesday that the Qatari government had notified Japan that Yasuda had been released.