Japan succeeds in evacuation operation in Afghanistan, ‘one person’… Tied to suicide bombing

A Japanese Self-Defense Force C-130 transport aircraft takes off from an air base in Samaya, Saitama Prefecture, to evacuate Japanese from Afghanistan. © AFP=News1

The Japanese government, which was trying to evacuate 500 local citizens and local collaborators from Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban militant group, is expected to return empty-handed, bringing only one of its own citizens.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun on the 29th, while only one Japanese has been successfully evacuated from Pakistan, a Japanese defense ministry official said, “It is difficult to continue the evacuation operation.” The Self-Defense Forces and Foreign Ministry staff who were dispatched had already left Afghanistan on the 27th.

Initially, the Japanese government asked those wishing to evacuate to go to the airport on their own. Belatedly, it was not until the 26th that 10-20 buses were prepared, but hundreds of evacuees could not enter the airport due to the suicide bombing, so they could not board the Air Self-Defense Force transport plane.

According to Yomiuri, Afghans who worked for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) exchanged questions about whether they could get to the airport safely from the bus, and then went back after hearing the news of the terrorist attack.

An Afghan employee who was on the bus at the time was anxious, saying, “The Japanese government did not come to pick me up on time. I can’t think of a way to leave the country. The danger is approaching.”

A 57-year-old Japanese woman living in Kabul, who was waiting for the bus to depart, said, “I heard an explosion. If it hadn’t been for the explosion, everyone could have reached the airport…”

The woman arrived at the airport with a foreign reporter in a Qatar government-related vehicle on the 27th, the day after the terrorist attack, and was able to evacuate to Pakistan on the Air Self-Defense Force C-130 transport plane. He was the only one who was evacuated by Japan during this operation.

Previously, the Japanese government evacuated 14 Afghans to Pakistan on the 26th, but these are exceptional cases where they were transported on an Air Self-Defense Force transport plane at the request of a foreign government. In the beginning, it was the people who were not in the evacuation target.

In Japan, the failure of the escape operation is an opportunity for voices calling for revision of the Self-Defense Forces Act.

This dispatch of transport planes is based on the ‘transportation of Japanese people abroad’ stipulated in Article 84-4 of the Self-Defense Forces Act. Self-Defense Forces members could only operate within airports where the US military could control their safety, and could not escort and bring evacuees directly to the market.

Jiji News reported that even within the Ministry of Defense, voices are expected to revise the law, saying, “I hope this case will be an opportunity to start discussions.”

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