TOKYO -- The Japanese government has ordered a veteran freelance journalist to surrender his passport to prevent him from going on a reporting trip to Yemen.
The decision came amid debate in Japan about whether journalists should be prevented from going to war zones after the capture and release of a Japanese reporter in Syria last year.
Kosuke Tsuneoka, 49, told local media that immigration officers stopped him at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on February 2, citing an order for him to surrender his passport.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Tuesday the government issued the order to “a male Japanese national” at Haneda airport.
When asked whether the action violated Tsuneoka’s right to travel, Kono said the journalist had the right to legal recourse.
“I wish to express my utmost respect to journalists who are reporting in dangerous places,” Kono said, while declining to disclose other details.
Tsuneoka was about to leave for the war-torn nation via Qatar and Sudan.
The rare step came amid mixed views in Japan over people taking risks with their safety after shock killings and kidnappings of journalists and other Japanese nationals in Middle East.
Tsuneoka was not available for immediate comment but has discussed his ordeal with Japanese media.