48 Japanese Nationals, Family Members Evacuated from Sudan Arrive at Haneda Airport

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Evacuee Naoyuki Kawahara, left, executive director of NPO Rocinantes, walks through Haneda Airport early Saturday morning accompanied by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kenji Yamada.

A total of 48 Japanese nationals and family members who evacuated conflict-hit Sudan arrived at Haneda Airport aboard a chartered plane Saturday morning.

The evacuees flew from the nearby northeastern African country of Djibouti and arrived in Japan at around 6:20 a.m.

“I almost cried when I saw the beautiful sight of Mt. Fuji from the plane,” said Naoyuki Kawahara, 57, executive director of Rocinantes, a Kitakyushu-based nonprofit organization that provides medical aid in Sudan. “I’m full of gratitude for the efforts made by various people. But I’m worried about the people in Sudan, whom I love very much. I hope a ceasefire can be achieved as soon as possible.”

To help evacuate the Japanese nationals and others, the Defense Ministry dispatched a total of five aircraft to Djibouti — where the Self-Defense Forces has a base — including two C-130 and two C-2 transport planes of the SDF.

The ministry also put on standby the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s destroyer JS Makinami and a P-3C surveillance plane, both of which were near Djibouti carrying out anti-pirate activities.

Of the aircraft dispatched, one C-2 plane transported 45 people, mainly Japanese nationals, from Sudan to Djibouti.

Following the government’s confirmation that all Japanese nationals in Sudan who wanted to be rescued had been safely evacuated, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada on Friday ordered the SDF to end the mission.