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FM Kono indicates need to use gov’t aircraft, ships to evacuate citizens in Korean contingency

Foreign Minister Taro Kono discussed the evacuation of Japanese nationals in South Korea in the event of a contingency in North Korea at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Nov. 27. He said: “If the situation is such that civilian aircraft can’t be used for evacuation, it will be necessary to dispatch government-owned aircraft and ships.” He indicated that it is necessary to consider sending government aircraft or Self-Defense Forces aircraft and ships. This was in response to a question from the Liberal Democratic Party’s former Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Yoshitaka Shindo.


With the U.S., the ROK, and other countries in mind, Kono also said that “it will be necessary to cooperate with other friendly nations and international organizations.” He added: “We would like to make efforts to ensure the safety of the people of the concerned countries if necessary,” thus indicating Japan’s willingness to cooperate with noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO) of other foreign nationals in South Korea. Kono indicated in a previous interview with Sankei Shimbun that he would consider accepting non-Japanese evacuees in Japan.


Commenting on moves in the ROK that violate the Japan-ROK agreement of 2015, such as the designation of “comfort women day,” Kono voiced criticism, saying that “there are sometimes acts that pour cold water on efforts to build a future-oriented relationship.”


He stressed that “we ask that the ROK government implement the bilateral accord faithfully in a situation like this.”

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