Japan wants to improve evacuation missions after the Afghanistan debacle: US failure

Japan wants to improve evacuation missions after the Afghanistan debacle: US failure

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) only managed to evacuate one Japanese national after the Taliban quickly overrun the American-backed government of Afghanistan. Not only was Japan caught off guard by events, but the same applies to the administration of President Joe Biden. After all, Biden reiterated that Afghan forces were well armed to fend off the Taliban.

However, the Taliban took Kabul without any military or political resistance. Instead, President Ashraf Ghani left Kabul immediately along with vast wealth stolen by corrupt elites linked to the former leader of Afghanistan. Similarly, the well-backed and trained armed forces of Afghanistan under the supervision of America (and other NATO allies) melted away.

The Hill reports, “What appears to have been a catastrophic intelligence failure in Afghanistan is a sobering reminder that American diplomatic presence in challenging places isn’t working well enough. Our diplomatic and intelligence teams appear to have misunderstood the ephemeral nature of the Ghani government and the speed of which the Taliban could take over.”

Japan should be concerned by the ineptitude of the United States Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley. Indeed, with the Taiwan situation being very delicate in recent times, can Japan trust America’s intelligence about this issue? Therefore, Kishida should also note the intelligence failure of America while seeking internal solutions to issues concerning the SDF.

Milley said, “There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days.”

All nations were surprised by the speed of events on the ground. Yet, while the crisis was unfolding, the inept former Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi had no qualms with departing on a scheduled tour of the Middle East region on the actual day Kabul fell to the Taliban. Even then, Motegi merely continued with his tour of the Middle East at a time of urgency for Japanese nationals.

Motegi is now the Secretary-General of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Hence, with the new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida seeking answers and recommendations to improve future possible evacuations, he should also ask why Motegi serves in such a high-ranking role after the debacle.

Concerning only evacuating one Japanese national from Afghanistan during the rescue mission – Kishida said, “I have instructed a review on whether we can further improve” the SDF. This concerns the lifting of regulations that constrains the armed forces of Japan even during evacuation missions.

Motegi, the Foreign Ministry, and Japanese Embassy officials in Kabul responded slowly to the crisis. This concerns the evacuation of Japanese nationals. Hence, Kishida should also question their respective roles in the debacle. Also, Kishida should note the abject failure of intelligence in America concerning events before the fall of Kabul to the Taliban.

Kishida said, “I understand it is important to make preparations in nonemergency situations so that we can fully respond in evacuating Japanese nationals when they face a crisis overseas.”

Modern Tokyo Times, in a past article, uttered, “Overall, just like NATO powers are unhappy about the information shared by America under President Joe Biden surrounding the evacuation process, it seems that Japan was equally left out of the loop. However, while other nations had mechanisms to cope with the situation on the ground, the same didn’t apply to Japan who left everything too late because of the shoddy nature of the Japanese Foreign Ministry.”

Japan should also ask questions about the Biden administration and individuals including Milley.


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