The Japanese government confirmed that missing freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda is once again a free man after being held for more than three years by a terrorist group in Syria.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono met with reporters in the early evening of Oct. 24 and said that Japanese Embassy officials in Turkey met with Yasuda, 44, at a Turkish immigration facility in Antakya close to the border with Syria, and confirmed his identity.

Kono said Yasuda appeared to be in good health and that every effort would be made to facilitate his early return to Japan.

At a news conference earlier in the day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said confirmation of Yasuda's identity would be made after daybreak in Turkey, or after about 3 p.m., Japan time.

Suga said no ransom had been paid, adding that the government did not negotiate directly with the terrorist group believed to have captured Yasuda.

Rather, a small unit within the prime minister's office sought the assistance of Turkey and Qatar to help secure Yasuda's release.

Prior to the confirmation of Yasuda's identity, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters he was "greatly relieved" to learn that the journalist had regained his freedom.

He also expressed gratitude to Turkey and Qatar for their cooperation.

Government officials received word from Qatar around 9 p.m. on Oct. 23 that a man believed to be Yasuda had been taken into custody by Turkish authorities.

According to Yasuda's acquaintances, the journalist entered Syria to cover the fighting there in late June 2015.

His whereabouts became unknown after he traveled on foot to the Idlib Governorate in northwestern Syria.

A video image appeared on the Internet in March 2016 showing a man believed to be Yasuda speaking in English and giving his name.

Subsequent video images posted to the Internet were also presumed to be Yasuda asking for help. In one, he pleaded to be rescued, saying it was his last chance.

The latest videos were posted in July 2018. In one, the man identified himself as a South Korean named Umar.