Japan had a list of about 500 people it wanted to evacuate from Afghanistan. Only one made it.

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A Japanese C-130 aircraft takes off from an airport in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, for the rescue operation in Afghanistan. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP via Getty Images

  • Japan’s failed evacuation plan saved only one of about 500 planned people.

  • Hundreds of evacuees have been stranded in Afghanistan after the deadly explosions canceled a mass evacuation on Thursday.

  • Critics say Japan pulled its workers out of Afghanistan too quickly without helping the locals it worked with.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When the last of the Japanese evacuation flights left Kabul last Friday, there was only one evacueee on board – a Japanese reporter for Kyodo News.

According to a diplomatic source working with Kyodo news.

The plan was hampered by legal restrictions and difficulties in getting evacuees to Kabul Airport. per Asahi Shimbun news agency.

Hundreds of their evacuees, including Afghans who worked with the Japanese government, piled on buses last Thursday preparing to depart for Kabul airport. reported Yomiuri Shimbun. But fatal attacks near the airport on the the same day 169 Afghans and 13 US soldiers were killed forced to cancel the evacuation.

Japan’s self-defense forces have dispatched three transport planes for the rescue operation, however Most of the evacuees were nowhere to be seen when they arrived.

When Japan ended its official evacuation plan and its planes left Afghanistan on Friday, it just had 14 Afghans to Pakistan at the request of the USA (not on Japan’s original list of 500 evacuees) and save 57-year-old reporter Hiromi Yasui. The rest of the evacuees are still stuck in Afghanistan.

“If there hadn’t been an explosion, we could all have reached the airport,” Yasui told Yomiuri Shimbun.

The Tokyo government said it would continue its efforts to help those who wanted to flee Afghanistan, without indicating how it would be done. according to the Japan Times. She declined to say how many Japanese nationals are still in Afghanistan, but told the Times that a small number remain in the country because they do not want to leave the country.

Legal restrictions hampered the evacuation

Tokyo’s struggle to get evacuees to Kabul Airport has been largely hampered by legal restrictions on its armed forces abroad. Corresponding Nikkei Asia, the Japanese government banned its troops from operating outside of Kabul airport, This meant that the evacuees had to find their own way to the flights through a multitude of Taliban checkpoints.

In contrast, other countries like the US and Germany used it helicopter to transport evacuees to Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Japan’s restricted operations in Kabul are due to its peaceful constitution after World War IIwhich states that as part of her renunciation of war she cannot use military force abroad.

A section of the Japanese Law on Self-Defense Forces allows it to use force if necessary to protect Japanese citizens abroad, but it must first get host country permission, which is unlikely in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. However, Japan has in the past adjusted its interpretation of its constitution to be responsible for sending armed forces to countries other than that of Japan USA in Iraq with 600 ground troops.

Critics said the Japanese government’s evacuation efforts were poor compared to other countries, which helped thousands of refugees flee Afghanistan after the Taliban captured Kabul earlier this month. Analysts also said Japan pulled its staff out of Afghanistan too quickly, referring to when it did evacuated Japanese diplomats on August 17thleaving behind the Afghans who had worked with them for decades.

“They left embassy staff rashly without deciding how to deal with the Afghans who worked there,” said Kazuto Suzuki, a professor at the University of Tokyo. to Nikkei.

“It is clear that Japan was not well prepared or coordinated when it was needed, and its efforts are more of a gesture to show that it has done its part,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian studies at the Tokyo campus Temple University, to the South China Morning Mail.

A 40-year-old Afghan who was among the evacuees told Yomiuri that he had been threatened and persecuted by the Taliban for his role with the Japanese Agency for International Cooperation.

“The Japanese government failed to get me out in time. I can’t think of any other way to leave this country. I’m in danger,” he said.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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