'Ransom demand' for Japanese journalist missing in Syria
The kidnappers of a Japanese journalist who is missing in Syria have made a ransom demand for him, it has been reported.
The France-based group Reporters Without Borders said it had learned that those holding freelance Jumpei Yasuda have started a countdown for a ransom payment, and are threatening to kill him or sell him to another militant group.
The J apanese government declined to comment on the reported ransom demand.
Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters at his daily morning briefing that Japan is doing its utmost to deal with the situation, but he would not confirm any details.
Reporters Without Borders is calling on the Japanese government to do everything possible to obtain his release.
Another freelance journalist, Kenji Goto, was among two Japanese killed in Syria by the Islamic State group in January in a hostage crisis that gripped Japan for more than a week.
Mr Yasuda went to Syria in part to report on Mr Goto, who was his friend, according to Reporters Without Borders.