Japan plans refugee strategy to get citizens out of South Korea
Japan's National Security Council (NSC) has discussed measures it would take to evacuate its 57,000 citizens from South Korea.
The talks were held yesterday as tension continued to escalate over a possible nuclear test by North Korea and a US Navy aircraft carrier group steamed into the region.
Tokyo would seek approval from Seoul to send military aircraft and warships, along with civilian transport, if it became necessary to remove its citizens, reports said.
The possibility of large numbers of seaborne refugees from North Korea, among them possible spies, was also discussed by Japanese ministers.
Japan's chief secretary to the cabinet Yoshihide Suga told a news conference it was always collecting and analysing information about North Korea's moves but would not discuss details. "At present, we are in close contact with the United States and South Korea and in addition to urging [the North] to refrain from provocative actions and observe relevant UN Security Council resolutions, we will take all necessary steps to protect our people's lives and assets," he said.
Japan began working on plans to respond to a potential crisis on the Korean peninsula in February, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met US President Donald Trump, the Kyodo news agency said.
At that time, the NSC called for preparations for a humanitarian response to any refugee crisis in the Sea of Japan along with tightened security, given the possibility that North Korean soldiers could seek to enter Japan by pretending to be refugees, Kyodo said, quoting government sources.