All networks reported that preparations are underway for SDF planes to leave for Afghanistan on a mission to evacuate stranded Japanese nationals and local Japanese Embassy staff members in Kabul. The networks said in addition to the C-2 transport plane that left Japan yesterday, the two C-130 transport planes left the ASDF’s Komaki Air Base in Aichi Prefecture this morning and will pick up SDF troops and equipment at Iruma Air Base in Saitama and leave for Afghanistan this afternoon. The network said the evacuation operation is expected to begin at Kabul’s international airport as early as this week.
Meanwhile, TV Asahi reported that it conducted the first one-on-one interview with a Taliban spokesperson by a Japanese media outlet since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, saying that the spokesperson said there is no problem with Japan evacuating its nationals with SDF transport planes. The network added that the spokesperson also called on Japan to end SDF activities in the nation by the end of this month when the U.S. troops are expected to withdraw, quoting him as saying: “Foreign militaries should withdraw as soon as possible. The deadline for the withdrawal set by the U.S. and other foreign militaries is August 31. We do not expect the Self-Defense Forces to continue to operate beyond that deadline.” In addition, the spokesperson also reportedly disclosed that the Taliban are communicating with the Japanese government through embassies and expressed hope to strengthen ties with Japan in the future.