Back in April, Japan came close to evacuating their citizens in South Korea. It occurred when Yomiuri Shimbun reported during the time that Japan’s government asked the US to provide ‘advance consultation if it is about to launch military action against North Korea, and “ramped up preparations for emergency situations”, including the potential evacuation of some 57,000 Japanese citizens currently in South Korea,’ reports Zero Hedge.
Today, a stronger sense of urgency to evacuate Japanese citizens has occurred. The nation’s Nikkei reported after Pyongyang’s first (alleged) hydrogen bomb test, new levels of tension on the Korean Peninsula have been reached. Japan is now planning a potential mass evacuation of 60,000 citizens from South Korea; people residing there and visitors.
“There is a possibility of further provocations,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a Monday meeting with ruling coalition lawmakers. “We need to remain extremely vigilant and do everything we can to ensure the safety of our people.”
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said any threat to the US or its allies “will be met with a massive military response – a response both effective and overwhelming.”
However, in response to the rogue nation’s sixth nuclear test, Japan and the US are trying more peaceful strategies to stick it to Kim Jong-un. They’re trying to place economic pressure through an oil embargo and other measures, ‘while South Korea’s president has also called for a currency/FX blockade of the Kim regime,’ Zero Hedge reports.
According to a Japanese government source, “If the U.S. decided on a military strike against the North, the Japanese government would start moving toward an evacuation on its own accord regardless of whether the American plans are public,” the Nikkei reported. It also stated right now there are a total of 57,000 Japanese citizens in South Korea: 38,000 are long-term residents and 19,000 or so tourists.
Tokyo is working on a four-tier emergency plan based on the severity of the situation: discouraging unessential travel to South Korea, discouraging all travel to South Korea, urging Japanese citizens there to evacuate, and finally, urging them to shelter in place.
Should skirmishes erupt between the two Koreas, for example, the Japanese government would discourage all new travel to South Korea. At the same time, it would urge citizens already there to evacuate using commercial flights. Although the Japanese Embassy would help secure airline reservations, the government’s role under this scenario would mainly be to provide information.
But Japan would need to coordinate with South Korean authorities under a shelter-in-place scenario. If Pyongyang launched a major military attack that leads to the closure of South Korean airports, the Japanese embassy would urge citizens still in the country to stay at home, or move to a safer area within the South.
Seoul has agreed to allow Japanese citizens access to safe zones (subway stations, churches and shopping malls), according to a Japanese source. Citizens of the nation in South Korea have been informed on where such facilities are located, which total to more than 900.
Zero Hedge reports: Furthermore, in the event of airport closures, the best option for Japanese citizens to return home would be by sea from the southeastern port city of Busan. The Japanese government is working to obtain cooperation from U.S. forces stationed in South Korea to transport evacuees across the country from Seoul to Busan.
Additionally, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces would need permission from South Korea’s government to operate inside the country. Approval has not been forthcoming, Yonhap reports, and could provoke a backlash from a South Korean public harboring historical grievances at the former colonial power. But SDF vessels could help in ferrying Japanese citizens home from Busan.
Such a crises could make it easier for terrorists and other dangerous individuals to enter Japan disguised as returning citizens. The Japanese government aims to work with the U.S. to prevent such unlawful entry. One proposal would create a temporary holding area for returnees in Busan or Japan.
“We are looking at a range of responses” to a crisis on the Korean Peninsula, from securing evacuees and processing their entry to creating and operating holding facilities, as well as determining whether Japan is responsible for their protection, Abe had said at a parliamentary session in April.
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