Tokyo, Nov. 15 (Jiji Press)–In the three months since the Islamist group Taliban took control of the Afghan capital of Kabul on Aug. 15, evacuations of Afghans who worked for Japan and their family members have progressed thanks to Qatar’s cooperation.
Of local staff members of the Japanese Embassy in Kabul and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and their family members who wished to leave the strife-torn country, 389 have arrived in Japan so far, government sources said.
Cooperation by the Qatari government, which has close relations with the Taliban, allowed Japan to fly evacuees from Afghanistan.
“It’s natural to provide maximum support to local staff members who worked with Japanese people,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told a press conference on Friday. “We will do what it takes to support evacuations.”
Amid growing tensions in Afghanistan in August, 12 Japanese staff members of the embassy evacuated from the country, but a total of some 500 local staff members of the embassy and JICA and their family members were stranded.
In an effort to rescue Afghan staff members and Japanese nationals, Japan dispatched Self-Defense Force aircraft to Kabul. As the local security situation worsened, however, the government was only able to bring home one Japanese national.
The government then switched to seeking cooperation from Qatar, sending a government representative to Doha, the capital of the Middle Eastern country.
Toshimitsu Motegi, then Japanese foreign minister, met with his Qatari counterpart, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and called for support for Japan’s efforts to evacuate Afghans. The Qatari foreign minister pledged maximum cooperation.
Since October, commercial planes arranged by the Qatari government have brought Afghan evacuees to Japan. Nearly 80 pct of those who wished to evacuate from Afghanistan are now in Japan.
A senior official of Japan’s Foreign Ministry said the foreign ministers’ meeting played a key role in realizing the evacuations. “We are doing well thanks to Qatar,” the official said.
The Afghans who have arrived in Japan are basically staying on short-term visas valid for 90 days.
Many of the evacuees hope to work in Afghanistan again, according to Japanese officials. It is not yet clear when Japan will be able to resume embassy and other operations in Afghanistan, however, making it an urgent task for the Japanese government to consider how to support them for the time being.