Japan Journalist Talks about Afghan Captivity

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Tokyo -- Freelance journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka met the press this afternoon at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan to talk about his more than five months in captivity in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan.

One of the most important points that Mr. Tsuneoka made was that his captors were not Taliban, but rather a faction of the Hizb-e-Islami under the command of a man known as Amir Latif.

Although he was treated quite well by his guards, he was also in fear for his life at some points, especially when negotiations between his captors and the Japanese Embassy in Kabul did not result in ransom payments.

Tsuneoka's supposition, based on his extensive conversation with those around him, was that there was no ideological motive in his captivity and it was really just an attempt to extort money from whoever might pay for his release.

It appears that the Japanese government did not pay any ransom, and finally Tsuneoka was released when his captors decided there was nothing to be gained in holding him any longer.

When asked about the general situation in Afghanistan, Tsuneoka observed that the forces of President Hamid Karzai controlled less than 20% of the nation's territory and the people in the Kunduz region clearly disliked the Kabul regime.

"During the five-and-a-half months I was there, I never heard anyone speak in favor of the government forces. In fact, if anything, they praised the Taliban forces and seemed to supporting them in terms of their feelings."

Ordinary Afghans, Tsuneoka observed, particularly dislike the US military drones.

"To have the drones flying overhead monitoring you creates a very oppressive feeling," he said.

In regard to the huge amounts of Japanese financial aid to Afghanistan, Tsuneoka noted that all of these funds go to support the sliver of the country controlled by Hamid Karzai and do not reach any other region.

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