Press Conference by Foreign Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki
Wednesday, September 8, 2021, 3:45 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Situation in Afghanistan (Support for Local Staff and Others to Leave Afghanistan)
NHK, Watanabe:I would like to ask about Afghanistan. There are local Afghani staff who worked at the Embassy of Japan and JICA who are still in Afghanistan. Please tell us if you are in contact with them somehow on their current conditions. There are still those who wish to evacuate, but how are you keeping track of their situation and supporting them? In addition, I believe that Mr. UEMURA Tsukasa will be visiting Qatar. Please tell us again how Japan will react in relation to this.
Mr. YOSHIDA Tomoyuki, Press Secretary: Firstly, the situation in Afghanistan is still very fluid. The Taliban has announced the members of its interim administration. We are monitoring the situation in Afghanistan with high feeling of tension since this issue is an international issue of utmost interest now.
In regard to the small number of Japanese nationals as well as Afghani nationals, including local embassy and JICA staff, who are still in Afghanistan which you asked about in your question, there is no change to the Government of Japan’s stance of exerting all efforts to enable them to safely leave the country.
We are continuing to maintain contact with people in Afghanistan regarding the conditions of the local staff and others who you asked about in your question. We are aware that these people still wish to leave Afghanistan.
At this point, the situation in Afghanistan is fluid and changing moment by moment. Enabling the safe departure of foreign nationals, including Afghanis, who are still in the country is an important matter of concern for not only Japan but other countries as well. We will continue to urge the Taliban to allow these people to leave Afghanistan while maintaining contact and cooperating with various related countries, including the United States.
As part of this, Government Representative UEMURA Tsukasa is visiting Doha in Qatar, which has been a hub for exchange of information. He is currently diligently conducting meetings with and gathering information from the top members of the Taliban’s political office and with his counterparts from related countries, including G7 countries.
The departure of the local staff and others is of course a matter of utmost priority. In addition, he is also gathering information while exchanging views on various other matters related to Afghanistan.
Situation in Afghanistan (Announcement of the Ministers of the “Interim Administration”)
Asahi Shimbun, Aibara:As you mentioned, the Taliban announced the members of its interim administration on September 7. Reports are stating that at least one of the members is on the wanted list of the Government of the United States. What is the Government of Japan’s assessment on the members of the “interim administration”?
Press Secretary Yoshida: We are aware that the Taliban announced the inauguration of its new “interim administration” and “interim cabinet” on September 7. We are paying attention to the Taliban’s announcement with high interest. It seems that the Government of the United States has made its own assessment and comments based on its position. In the announcement and press conference by Mr. Zabiullah Mujahid, it is stated that the cabinet is not fixed and is an interim cabinet, and that members from other regions of the country will be chosen. We will continue to pay close attention to what the cabinet would look like.
More importantly than who will join the cabinet, we would first like to see whether the Taliban would actually act accordingly to what it has stated publicly until now.
Of course, we know that we will have to engage in practical consultations with the Taliban due to various issues I mentioned earlier. We will continue to convey our views to the Taliban, including through Government Representative Uemura, and exert all efforts to achieve our current goal of enabling the safe departure of related parties from Afghanistan.
Situation in Myanmar (Call to Start Armed Revolt by Pro-Democracy Activists)
Mainichi Shimbun, Miyajima:Regarding Myanmar, pro-democracy activists are calling to start an armed uprising. What is the Government of Japan’s view? In addition, about how many Japanese nationals are still in Myanmar, and will the government consider evacuating them from Myanmar?
Press Secretary Yoshida: On September 7, the National Unity Government (NUG), the pro-democracy faction in Myanmar, declared a national state of emergency and announced the start of armed revoltt against the State Administration Council, which is led by the military junta. In regard to the announcement, we are paying close attention and strengthening information gathering activities in order to understand what kind of situation it leads to, especially whether it would lead to any kind of conflict. I have not received any report about such conflict occurring as of now.
I do not have with me now the exact number of Japanese nationals residing in Myanmar, which you asked about. I will confirm later. Right now, we are quickly confirming again whether Japanese nationals and companies have experienced any harm or damage. I have not received any such information at this point. We will continue to exert all efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals residing in Myanmar.
At this point, I do not believe the situation has reached the point where we need to evacuate Japanese nationals. Of course we are fully aware that the situation on the ground is changing moment by moment. Bearing that in mind, we will exert all efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals and be able to respond to any kind of situation.
Situation in Afghanistan (Communication with the “Interim Administration”)
NHK, Watanabe: Allow me to ask another question. I would like to ask about Afghanistan again. Civilian aircrafts have begun landing at Kabul airport, and the members of the Taliban administration have been announced. I am not sure whether the situation is becoming stable or not, but is it correct to assume that there are still people in Afghanistan who wish to leave the country? To add, do you believe that there will actually be a Taliban administration? The members of the administration have been announced. Maybe you are trying to understand who will be in charge of negotiation on the Taliban side, is the Government of Japan heading in the direction of directly negotiations with the Taliban in terms of ensuring the safety of people related to Japan, for which relations with Qatar will play a part?
Press Secretary Yoshida: Firstly, you asked about the situation at the airport. Air travel is the first thing that comes up in mind when you think of safe departure from a country, so how the airport is being managed and operated is an extremely important factor.
We have heard that the Taliban is requesting cooperation from related countries regarding airport management. We will fully confirm whether airport operations will be resumed and civilian aircraft could start landing and taking off. However, at this point, I cannot say anything certain.
Of course, there will be people who want to leave the country and people who want to stay depending on how the situation evolves. In addition, this point was discussed during a recent debate TV program, I believe the situation will need to be constantly updated bearing in mind what stance the administration takes regarding the people who leaves the country while human resources will be needed for Afghanistan’s nation building.
On the other hand, the Government of Japan will exert all efforts to enable the departure of the small number of Japanese nationals still in the country and the local staff of the embassy and others who wish to leave Afghanistan. To achieve such departure, I believe that practical consultations and communication with the Taliban will of course be necessary.
An expanded ministerial meeting on Afghanistan is scheduled to be held tonight. During the meeting, I believe that there will be discussion among participating countries on important issues such as the safe travel of people who wish to leave Afghanistan. Accordingly, I believe it is necessary for related countries to use this opportunity to share information and coordinate, so that the international community can unite and cooperate to reach out the Taliban, rather than just Japan reaching out the Taliban.
Press Secretary Yoshida:Mr. Miyajima asked earlier about the number of Japanese national residents who are still in Myanmar. Although I cannot give you the specific number, it seems that there are few hundred Japanese nationals.