The central government will revise the Self-Defense Forces Law to allow the SDF to airlift foreign nationals from abroad without requiring the presence of Japanese passengers in the event of an emergency, sources said.
The revision comes after the SDF’s unprecedented involvement in evacuating people out of Afghanistan last August after the Taliban’s takeover.
The Japanese government had dispatched SDF aircraft to fly Japanese nationals and local Afghan staff who worked for Japan, including those at the Japanese Embassy in Kabul, out of the country.
Most of those who requested to be airlifted were local staff.
But the section of the SDF Law that deals with the “transport of Japanese nationals abroad and others” sets out that foreign nationals can only be transported when they accompany Japanese nationals.
The government will submit a bill to revise the law to the next ordinary Diet session to allow the SDF to airlift foreign nationals who have close connections with Japan, such as spouses of Japanese nationals and local Japanese Embassy staff, without needing Japanese passengers on board, sources said.
The government will also revise the requirements for dispatching SDF aircraft to quickly evacuate Japanese nationals from abroad in the event of an emergency.
The current law requires decisions to deploy SDF aircraft to be made only when it is deemed safe to carry out a rescue mission after a discussion is held about the expected danger and measures to avoid it.
The government is considering dropping the wording concerning safety to change that part to “only when it is deemed possible to implement measures (to avert expected danger decided after a discussion).”