- A failed evacuation plan in Japan saved only one person out of a planned 500 or so.
- Hundreds of evacuees ended up in Afghanistan after deadly explosions on Thursday canceled mass evacuations.
- Critics say Japan was too quick to pull its personnel out of Afghanistan without helping the local people it worked with.
When the last of the Japanese evacuation flights took off from Kabul last Friday, there was only one evacuee on board – the Japanese correspondent for Kyodo News.
She was the only person rescued from the original 500 or so Afghans and Japanese who had to leave Japan’s failed evacuation plan, according to a diplomatic source who spoke to Kyodo News.
The plan was hampered by legal restrictions and difficulties in transporting evacuees to Kabul airport. according to Asahi Shimbun News Agency.
Hundreds of evacuees, including Afghans who worked with the Japanese government, boarded buses on Thursday preparing to leave for Kabul airport. reported by Yomiuri Shimbun… But deadly attacks near the airport on on the same day that 169 Afghans and 13 US troops were killed forced to cancel the evacuation.
The Japan Self-Defense Forces dispatched three transport aircraft for rescue operations, but most of the evacuees were nowhere to be seen by the time they arrived.
When Japan completed its official evacuation plan on Friday and its plane left Afghanistan, it only managed to send 14 Afghans in Pakistan at the request of the US (which were not on Japan’s original list of 500 evacuees) and save Reporter Hiromi Yasui, 57. The rest of the evacuees remain in Afghanistan.
“If there was no explosion, we could all get to the airport,” Yasui told Yomiuri Shimbunu.
The Tokyo government has said it will continue its efforts to help those seeking to flee Afghanistan, but did not specify how it would do so. according to The Japan Times. He declined to say how many Japanese citizens are still in Afghanistan, but told The Times that a small number of them remain in the country as they do not want to leave.
Legal restrictions impeded evacuation
Tokyo’s struggle to evacuate to Kabul airport has been greatly complicated by legislative restrictions on its forces overseas. In accordance with Nikkei Asia, the Japanese government has banned its troops from operating outside the Kabul airport, This meant that evacuees had to make their own way to flights through many Taliban checkpoints.
In contrast, other countries such as the United States and Germany have used helicopters for transportation of evacuees to Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Japan’s limited operations in Kabul are due to the fact that peaceful constitution after World War II, which states that he cannot use military force abroad in the framework of renunciation of war.
One Section of the Japan Self-Defense Forces Act allows him to use force if necessary to protect Japanese citizens overseas, but first he must obtain permission from the host country, which is unlikely with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. However, in the past, Japan has changed its interpretation of its constitution to be responsible for sending troops to other countries, for example when it supported US in Iraq with 600 ground troops.
Critics said the Japanese government’s evacuation efforts were weak compared to other countries that helped thousands of refugees leave Afghanistan after the Taliban took over Kabul earlier this month. Analysts also said that Japan was too quick to withdraw its employees from Afghanistan, meaning that when it Japanese diplomats evacuated on August 17leaving behind the Afghans who have worked with them for decades.
“They were too quick to get the embassy staff out, not deciding what to do with the Afghans who worked there,” said Kazuto Suzuki, a professor at the University of Tokyo. in Nikkei.
“It is clear that Japan was not well prepared or coordinated when needed, and its efforts are more of a gesture to show that it has played a role,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian studies at the Tokyo Temple University campus. … , to South China Morning Mail.
One 40-year-old Afghan who was among the evacuees told Yomiuri that he was threatened and persecuted by the Taliban for his role in the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
“The Japanese government was unable to take me out on time. I cannot think of any other way to leave this country. I’m in danger, ”he said.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.