Japan to send military planes to Kabul to evacuate Japanese

TOKYO (AP) — Japan will send three military aircraft to Afghanistan starting Monday to evacuate Japanese citizens and local staff as security deteriorates following the Taliban takeover, officials said.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the planes will pick up Japanese nationals and Afghans who worked for the Japanese Embassy and development agencies.

“The local situation is rapidly becoming fluid … and we are doing everything we can to get them out of the country,” Kishi said.

The area around Kabul’s international airport remains filled with thousands of people trying to flee the country after the Taliban takeover.

Japan closed its Kabul embassy on Aug. 15 and set up a temporary office in neighboring Turkey two days later, but local employees at the embassy and other Japan-related organizations remain in Afghanistan.

Kishi declined to say how many people will be evacuated, citing security reasons.

He said Japan plans to finish the evacuation before the Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Earlier Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said U.S. troops in Afghanistan are conducting aviation controls and flights are operating safely. He said there is no sign of interference by the Taliban so far.

Japan dispatched a military transport plane to South Sudan to evacuate Japanese diplomats during that country’s unrest in 2016.