When the last of Japan’s evacuation flights departed Kabul last Friday, only one evacuee was on board — a Japanese reporter for Kyodo News.
She was the sole person rescued out of the initial 500 or so Afghans and Japanese nationals who were slated to leave in Japan’s botched evacuation plan, according to a diplomatic source who spoke to Kyodo News.
The plan was impeded by legal restrictions and difficulties getting evacuees to the Kabul airport, per news outlet Asahi Shimbun.
Hundreds of its evacuees, including Afghans who worked with the Japanese government, had piled onto buses preparing to leave for Kabul airport last Thursday, reported Yomiuri Shimbun. But deadly attacks near the airport on the same day that killed 169 Afghans and 13 US service members forced the evacuation to be canceled.
Japan’s Self-Defense Forces dispatched three transport planes for the rescue effort, but most of the evacuees were nowhere to be seen by the time they arrived.
When Japan ended its official evacuation plan on Friday and its aircraft left Afghanistan, it had only managed to send 14 Afghans to Pakistan at the US’s request (who were not part of Japan’s initial list of 500 evacuees) and save 57-year-old reporter Hiromi Yasui. The rest of its evacuees are still stranded in Afghanistan.
“If there hadn’t been an explosion, all of us could have made it to the airport,” Yasui told Yomiuri Shimbun.
The Tokyo government said it would continue efforts to help those who wished to escape Afghanistan, though it did not specify how it would do so, according to The Japan Times. It declined to say how many Japanese nationals are still in Afghanistan but told The Times that a small number remain in the country as they do not wish to leave.