Japanese student suspected of trying to join ISIL

Japanese student suspected of trying to join ISIL

TOKYO - Reuters
Japanese student suspected of trying to join ISIL

A TV cameraman films a used-book store where a poster offering positions for 'work in Syria' was pasted on the wall in Tokyo Oct. 6. AP Photo

Tokyo police are investigating the possibility that a Japanese student tried to travel to Syria to join  Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Oct. 7, as the United States carries out air strikes on militant targets.

Suga did not elaborate, but the Asahi Shimbun daily said police questioned a 26-year-old man, taking leave of absence from Hokkaido University in north Japan, about plans to go to Syria to join ISIL as a fighter.

"I am aware police conducted a search based on the criminal law. But I would like to refrain from going into details because the matter is under investigation," Suga told a news conference.

"As a member of the international community, our country has a policy of actively taking steps to prevent terrorism."

The U.N. Security Council last month demanded that all states make it a serious criminal offence for their citizens to travel abroad to fight with militant groups, or to recruit and fund others to do so, a move sparked by the rise of ISIL.

The Asahi said police confiscated the college student's passport and questioned a person who is related to a Tokyo book store where a help-wanted note for a job in Syria was posted.

Former Japanese air force chief Toshio Tamogami last month quoted a senior Israeli government official as saying that nine Japanese nationals had joined ISIL, although Suga then said the government had not confirmed the information.

About 1,000 recruits from a vast region stretching from India to the Pacific may have joined ISIL to fight in Syria or Iraq, the head of the U.S. Armed Forces' Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, said last month.