The government will charter a flight out of India on Monday for Japanese nationals amid the country’s escalating tension with Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Friday.
“Since the seat availability on commercial flights from India is becoming very tight, the government needs to secure the means of evacuating Japanese nationals,” Kawaguchi told a news conference. “We are urging Japanese to leave India and Pakistan as soon as possible.”
Chartered flights will not be dispatched for Pakistan for the time being, however, as commercial flights are still available, she said.
A Japan Airlines jetliner that can carry 233 passengers will depart Delhi on Monday night and arrive at Tokyo Tuesday morning via Bangkok, the Foreign Ministry said.
The government has raised the travel warning for the Kashmir region in India and Pakistan to the highest level, urging all Japanese to leave the area.
Japanese are also advised to refrain from all nonessential travel to other regions of India and Pakistan and to get out if already there.
Senior Foreign Ministry officials have been saying that if it becomes impossible for chartered flights to fly to India or Pakistan, Japan may consider sending Self-Defense Forces or government aircraft to evacuate Japanese remaining in the two countries.
As of Thursday, there were an estimated 1,450 Japanese in India and 680 in Pakistan.
The Foreign Ministry has issued advisories to Japanese travelers to stay away from the Kashmir region, where the military forces of the two nuclear-armed rivals are massed along the border, and is urging them to leave both nations.
U.S. airlift eyed
WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Japan has sounded out the United States on the possibility of U.S. military planes airlifting Japanese nationals out of India and Pakistan in case war breaks out between the two countries, and the U.S. has agreed to help, diplomatic sources said Thursday.
The Foreign Ministry made the unofficial request through the U.S. State Department because the government’s planes and Self-Defense Forces aircraft alone may not be enough to airlift the large number of Japanese in the two countries, the sources said.
The United States is ready to help, but specific plans, including an evacuation of Americans, have yet to be fixed.
The sources also said Japan may put government or SDF aircraft on standby for an evacuation of Japanese out of India and Pakistan in the event of an emergency.
JAL halts India flights
Japan Airlines said Friday it will cancel a round-trip flight next week between Narita and Delhi, India, due to rising military tensions between India and Pakistan.
JAL operates the flight every Thursday and Sunday.
The Thursday flight will be canceled, JAL said, adding it will decide later whether to recontinue flights beginning June 16.
The airline said it will run a charter flight between Japan and India on Monday at the request of the Foreign Ministry to help evacuate Japanese nationals.
India and Pakistan have deployed about a million troops along their border in a standoff triggered by a December attack on India’s parliament that New Delhi blames on Pakistani-based militants.
Tensions escalated further in May after heavily armed Muslim militants attacked a bus and stormed a nearby army camp in Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, killing more than 30 people and injuring many more.
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