The Japanese government on Wednesday appealed a district court ruling that found it illegal not to reissue a passport to journalist Jumpei Yasuda after he was held captive in Syria for more than three years amid the civil war there.

The 49-year-old freelance war reporter filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court in 2020, demanding the state rescind the decision to reject his passport issuance on grounds the move violates the freedom to travel abroad guaranteed by the Constitution.

Jumpei Yasuda gives a press conference in Tokyo on Jan. 25, 2024. (Kyodo)

The court ruled on Jan. 25 that the government's denial to issue a passport amounted to a deviation or abuse of its discretionary power.

Yasuda, whose passport was taken away while in captivity by militant group in Syria, applied for a reissuance in January 2019 after he was released and returned to Japan via Turkey in 2018. He had entered Syria in 2015 from Turkey to report on the Islamic State militant group.

But the Japanese Foreign Ministry rejected his application in July 2019, given that the journalist was slapped with a five-year entry ban by Turkey upon his release.

The passport law has a provision that allows the Foreign Ministry to restrict the issuance of travel documents if a destination country denies that person's entry.

The court, however, said the purpose of the provision is to maintain a relationship of trust between Japan and a country that has imposed an entry ban, and concluded that the trust between Japan and Turkey would not be harmed even if Yasuda travels to countries other than Turkey and its neighbors.

While recognizing the illegality of the ministry's passport denial decision, the court rejected Yasuda's claim that the provision itself violates the Constitution.

Yasuda also appealed the district court ruling on Wednesday.

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