TOKYO, Japan, Japanese freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda, whose three-year hostage ordeal in Syria ended following his release, departed Istanbul on Thursday aboard a Japan-bound flight, Xinhua news agency quoted a report from public broadcaster NHK.
Yasda, who went missing in Syria more than three years ago and was confirmed safe by the Japanese Government on Wednesday, is scheduled to arrive in Japan later on Thursday, NHK said.
"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. I am thinking about what I need to do," the 44-year-old was quoted previously as saying aboard a flight from the southern Turkish city of Antakya to Istanbul.
On the same flight, he told NHK that his time held captive was hell both physically and psychologically. He said the thought of not being freed day after day led him to lose control of himself, and living in a cell had become normal for him, although paradoxically was a painful reality.
As for his release, Yasuda told NHK that he was taken by car and handed over to Turkish officials at the border and taken to immigration. He indicated the handover went smoothly.
On Wednesday, the Japanese Government confirmed that a man released by Syrian militants was indeed, Yasuda.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told a press briefing Wednesday that Yasuda's safety was confirmed and the government had been informed that at first glance, he looked healthy.
Kono said Japan hoped to bring Yasuda back home as quickly as possible after checking his health condition.
Yasuda went missing after entering Syria three years ago on an assignment to cover the civil war. He was feared to have been held captive by militants in the Middle East country.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said late Tuesday that the Qatari Government had notified Japan that Yasuda had been released.
Qatari officials said Yasuda was at an immigration facility in the Turkish city of Antakya. Japan coordinated closely with multiple countries to secure the journalist's release. These included Qatar and Turkey, Kono said, adding that the Japanese Government did everything it could to secure Yasuda's safety.
The Japanese Government was grateful that Yasuda's safety had been confirmed and was grateful to the governments of Qatar and Turkey, and other people concerned in assisting with his release, said Kono.
On Wednesday, Suga denied that Japan had secured Yasuda's release by paying a ransom despite some organisations' claims to the contrary.
Yasuda was initially believed to have been captured and held by an al-Qaida-linked group. It came to light thereafter, that he might have been handed over to a fringe organisation of the militant group.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also thanked the leaders of Turkey and Qatar for their part in helping secure Yasuda's release.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK