Japan government looks into reports of Japanese man detained in Syria, possibly by militants



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TOKYO — Japan is looking into reports that a Japanese man may have been detained possibly by militants in Syria, the foreign ministry said Monday.

The government was trying to confirm through the Japanese embassy in Damascus, now operating out of Jordan, the reports that surfaced over the weekend, such as online posts showing a man being captured, allegedly in Syria, a ministry official said.

His identity, why he was there and other details are not clear.

A ministry official said Japan received a tip from a person, not a country or terrorist group, about the capture.

Three investigative task forces have been set up, one in Jordan, another in the Prime Minister's office in Tokyo and another on international terrorism at the national police, he told reporters.

The detained man is not believed to be among the 22 Japanese registered as residing in Syria, such as spouses of Syrians, and that means the individual may have entered the country illegally, said the official, who asked not to be named because of ministry policy. He did not elaborate.

The Japanese government has warned against travel in Syria, where fighting has been ongoing between Syrian government forces and the Islamic State group and other rebels that control northern Syria and parts of Iraq.

The government does not plan to send investigators into Syria as it feels that is too dangerous, the official said.

Japan's constitution after World War II prevents the nation from taking part in most military combat. Japan has taken part in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions in the Middle East.

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