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IS militants confirm capture of Japanese man in Syria: Kyodo news agency

Islamic State militants have confirmed the capture of a Japanese man in northern Syria, according to Japan's Kyodo news agency. It is not known whether he has been harmed or not, and there are conflicting reports on what he was doing in Syria.

TOKYO: Islamic State militants have confirmed the capture of a Japanese man in northern Syria, according to Japan's Kyodo news agency. It is not known whether he has been harmed or not, and there are conflicting reports on what he was doing in Syria.

Japan is working with various ministries to find the man. Japan's deputy foreign minister, Akitaka Saiki said: "I can't tell you how we are gathering information but the Japanese government, foreign ministry and embassy are all working hard to confirm his identity and secure his safety right now."

In a video posted on YouTube on Sunday, the Japanese captive was seen on the ground being questioned by unidentified persons. He had given his name as Haruna Yakawa. He had said he was a photographer but later changed his occupation to half-doctor and half-journalist. His captors had also asked him why he was carrying a gun.

He is now believed to be 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa, and a Facebook page with a matching name shows he runs a Japanese security firm, called Private Military Company (PMC).

PMC's Facebook page also has a photo taken in July of Mr Yukawa test firing an assault rifle, in Aleppo, northwestern Syria. According to reports, he had travelled to Syria for work but his father lost contact with him on August 6.

Japan's Foreign Ministry had issued the highest level advisory in July requesting that Japanese in Syria leave the country, and for those with travel plans, to postpone their trips.

Two years ago, a Japanese female journalist Mika Yamamoto was shot dead in Syria. And in 2004, three Japanese aid workers were taken hostage in Iraq but were released after 15 days. That same year, a 24-year-old Japanese tourist had also been kidnapped and killed.