Afghan evacuees arrive in Japan, more expected to come

Kyodo News

Posted at Sep 13 2021 06:37 PM

An Afghan man stands at an Afghan refugee camp in Zahedan, Iran September 8, 2021. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
An Afghan man stands at an Afghan refugee camp in Zahedan, Iran September 8, 2021. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

Four Afghan evacuees have arrived in Japan from Afghanistan to take refuge following the Taliban's return to power, with the Japanese government arranging for more evacuees to enter the country, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The evacuees -- a local worker for the Japan International Cooperation Agency in Afghanistan and the worker's family members -- arrived at Narita airport near Tokyo on Sunday evening, becoming the first Afghans to take refuge in Japan after the Taliban's takeover.

The ministry said they left Afghanistan by land in late August on their own without Japan's assistance after the Taliban returned to power in mid-August and have no health problems.

They are currently staying on a short-term visa and quarantined as part of Japan's measures against the novel coronavirus. The ministry said that once they decide whether they wish to continue staying in Japan or leave for another country, it will respond accordingly.

Japan will continue to seek the safe evacuation of Afghan staff of Japanese organizations and others from the country qualifying for refuge by air and other means through negotiations with the Taliban while sheltering those who have evacuated on their own, the ministry said.

Former Afghan students who studied in Japan are also subject to Japan's assistance if they have a guarantor in Japan, the ministry said.

"We have offered necessary assistance such as issuing a visa and arranging airline tickets," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a press conference in Tokyo, adding that the government will continue to provide support for other evacuees.

The four Afghans arrived in Japan via Doha in the Gulf state of Qatar and arrangements are being made for further Afghan evacuees to arrive in Japan soon -- on Monday or later -- with the Japanese government and JICA shouldering travel and accommodation expenses, ministry officials said.

The Japanese government did not negotiate with the Taliban over the entry of the four Afghans, the officials said.

The Japanese Self-Defense Forces were dispatched to the region in late August to evacuate around 500 people wishing to leave Afghanistan.

By the end of the evacuation mission on Aug. 31, the SDF had only evacuated one Japanese as well as 14 Afghans at the request of the United States.

A temporary office that Japan set up for its Kabul embassy in Qatar on Sept. 1 is expected to be responsible for evacuation support.