Calling himself "a combination of samurai and kamikaze," a Japanese truck driver is so bored with life at home that takes vacations in Syria, photographing the war from the front lines. Thanks to today's article from Agence France-Presse, the internet is agog at the story of Toshifumi Fujimoto, a 45-year-old trucker who is not a professional photojournalist, but chooses to spend his free time taking pictures in the most dangerous war zone on the planet. Wearing a Japanese army uniform and caring several large cameras, Fujimoto tags along with Syria rebels and stands his ground as bullets fly all around him. Needless to say, don't try this home.
Most people would consider Fujimoto's hobby to be insane. He doesn't speak Arabic, is actually paying money out of his own pocket to be there, and doesn't even wear a flak jacket or helmet when shooting images in the heart of battle. However, it seems that it isn't recklessness or adrenaline that drives him, but a deep sadness that borders on suicidal tendencies. This heartbreaking passage explains what's really going on here:
Fujimoto is divorced, and says "I have no family, no friends, no girl friend. I am alone in life."
But he does have three daughters, whom he hasn't seen for five years, "not even on Facebook or the Internet, nothing. And that saddens me deeply," he said as he wiped away a tear.
So he's bought a life insurance policy, and "I pray every day that, if something happens to me, my girls might collect the insurance money and be able to live comfortably."
The Syria Civil War has been one of the most dangerous conflicts ever for journalists, with little regard given to their safety by the military and many even being deliberately targeted for assassination or kidnapping. Fujimoto claims he's safer than others, because he's just a "tourist," but one hopes his new notoriety does not suddenly make him a target as well. Or get him fired. Fujimoto says he asked for time off from work, but didn't tell anyone where he was really going.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.