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Afghanistan turmoil

Japan to send Self-Defense Forces planes to Afghanistan for evacuation

Mission will evacuate Japanese nationals and local staff as situation worsens

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato tells reporters on Aug. 23 the country plans to dispatch a Self-Defense Forces aircraft to evacuate Japanese nationals and local staff who worked for the Japanese embassy.    © Kyodo

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan will dispatch a total of three Self-Defense Forces planes to Afghanistan to evacuate Japanese nationals and local staff who worked for the Japanese Embassy there and other organizations amid the worsening security situation in the country, the top government spokesman said Monday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the government will send one C-2 transport aircraft on Monday and two C-130s on Tuesday.

"Securing the safety of Japanese people (in Afghanistan) is our top priority, and we also deem it important to secure the safety of local staff of the embassy and JICA remaining there as they include those who wish to leave the country," Kato said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will join a Group of Seven nations' online summit to be held on Tuesday over the situation in Afghanistan, he added.

Japanese diplomats were evacuated to Dubai last Tuesday after the embassy in the capital Kabul was shut on Aug. 15, with the Taliban regaining control of the country 20 years after it was ousted from power by U.S.-led forces, but some Japanese working for international organizations remain there.

There are also believed to be dozens of local staff for the embassy as well as the Japan International Cooperation Agency and other Japanese organizations yet to be evacuated. A Defense Ministry advance team has departed for Afghanistan to gather information for the mission.

Other countries, such as the United States and Britain, have been evacuating their nationals and local staff via their military aircraft.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party criticized the decision to evacuate Japanese Embassy staff via 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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