A source with knowledge of a Japanese national captured by the Islamic State in Syria says the man was an obsessive military role-player who wanted to go to a war zone to impress his friends.
The source, who cannot be named, says that the captured man, Haruna Yukawa, who allegedly fought with the Free Syrian Army, used to run a “fun” military surplus store, Hidayaka International (hidakaya-international.co.jp), whose site is no longer working. The store was intended for role playing games and fun, according to the source.
Mr. Yukawa was not a private military contractor or mercenary, and had no military experience, the source said, though he had opened a website for a security company, PMC (Private Military Company) Co Ltd (http://privatemilitary.jp/). However, the company is nothing more than the website and had not actually taken part in any security contracts, the source said. Instead, Mr. Yukawa wanted to have “the experience of a private military company”.
An email request for comment to PMC has so far gone unanswered.
Mr. Yukawa went to Syria to impress his friends from the extreme military roleplaying community, and also because he wanted to show his friends that he was “like a real veteran soldier”, the source said.
Many of Mr. Yukawa’s friends actually believed he was a real soldier, and that is one reason why he went to Syria, the source said — to prove himself.
According to the source, Mr Yukawa was well-known in the small Japanese “military fun” community and had his own store, the source said.
Mr. Yukawa also visited several Japanese politicians, including Japanese nationalist politician and former Air Self Defense Force military officer Toshio Tamogami. A claimed picture of the Mr. Yukawa with Mr. Tamagami is below:
According to the International Business Times, the regional representative of nationalist group “Gambare Nippon” (Stand Firm, Japan), Kimoto, also said Yukawa was active in the group.
Mr. Yukawa would have entered Syria via Turkey, the source said. Before going to Syria he visited Iraq with Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. Mr Goto allegedly met Mr. Yukawa in Syria and is unaware that he is a “fun soldier” not a real mercenary, according to the source. Mr Goto was interviewed on Monday about the capture of Mr. Yukawa.
Videos from Mr. Yukawa’s YouTube channel show him in Syria:
And in Iraq: