Japan plans to dispatch a Self-Defense Forces plane to Afghanistan to evacuate Japanese nationals and local staff who have worked for the Japanese Embassy, amid the worsening security situation in the country, government sources said Sunday.
The government, which plans to send the aircraft as soon as preparations are complete, will also evacuate local staff that worked for the Japan International Cooperation Agency and other organizations, the sources said.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga met with his national security adviser Takeo Akiba and the vice ministers of the foreign and defense ministries at his office on Sunday to discuss the dispatch plan, according to the sources.
In a related development, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he has called a Group of Seven summit on Tuesday “for urgent talks on the situation in Afghanistan.”
“It is vital that the international community works together to ensure safe evacuations, prevent a humanitarian crisis and support the Afghan people to secure the gains of the last 20 years,” Johnson said on Twitter, in reference to online talks with his counterparts from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union.
Japanese diplomats were evacuated to Dubai last Tuesday after the embassy in Kabul was shut on Aug. 15, but Afghans and other local staff who worked at the embassy still remain in the country.
There are believed to be dozens of local staff yet to be evacuated, and even more if their families are included.
Should they wish to leave for Japan or a third country, the Japanese government will respond accordingly, according to the sources.
Earlier this month, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan 20 years after it was ousted from power by U.S.-led forces, with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country following the Islamic militant group’s seizure of Kabul.
Other countries such as the United States and Britain have been evacuating their nationals and local staff via their own military aircraft.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party criticized the decision to evacuate Japanese Embassy staff with a British military airplane last week, saying an SDF plane should have been dispatched instead.
In 2016, an Air Self-Defense Force transport aircraft was dispatched to South Sudan amid a deteriorating security situation to evacuate Japanese Embassy staff to a neighboring country.
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Source: The Japan Times