Message in Photo: 'Please Help Me. This Is Last Chance'
Journalist Jumpei Yasuda vanished last June while near the Syrian border
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2016 7:33 AM CDT
In this April 17, 2004 file photo, Japanese freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda, right, is escorted after being released at Umm Al-Qura mosque in Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

(Newser) – Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda vanished last June while near the Syrian border. Now a Syrian man connected to his alleged captors on Sunday released a photo that Japan's foreign minister says the country believes "is of Mr. Yasuda himself." In the photo, a man with long hair and a heavy beard holds a sign whose Japanese characters read, "Please help me. This is the last chance." The message is signed "Jumpei Yasuda," reports the Japan Times. The minister had no further comments, but NBC News reports by way of the Kyodo news agency that the photo's source said the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front is holding Yasuda in Syria.

The Syrian man has reportedly said that the Nusra Front will transfer Yasuda to ISIS if the government doesn't play ball; the group reportedly wants a ransom to be paid. The BBC notes it's a sensitive situation for the country, which was accused of not going the distance last year when it came to saving journalist Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, who were beheaded by ISIS early last year. (Goto's tweet against hate made waves after his death.)