Japan returns favor, flies Koreans out of Israel
Japan is evacuating 18 South Koreans from Israel using its military aircraft, a gesture of goodwill that appears to reciprocate Seoul’s rescue flight last week to bring back Japanese alongside its citizens.
According to Kyodo News and the Japanese Defense Ministry, 18 Koreans and one family member of foreign nationality -- along with 60 Japanese and four family members of foreign nationality -- will land at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on early Saturday.
The Foreign Ministry in Seoul said it has nothing to confirm or add to the rescue mission led by Japanese authorities, noting details will be released following Japan’s official announcement on the issue.
In a phone call Sunday, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa thanked South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin for flying Japanese out of Israel, the latest evidence of warmer ties between the two countries.
The two Asian neighbors, which had long been locked in historical disputes neither looked ready to compromise over, mended their ties in May, when they decided to put behind differences to advance common security and economic interests.
No Korean fatalities and casualties have been reported since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel. An advisory issued Thursday by the Foreign Ministry urged Koreans to leave Israel. Travel to the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian militant group launched the multi-pronged offensive, was banned in August.
On Friday, Park met with Israeli Ambassador to Korea Akiva Tor, extending condolences to the victims and their families affected by the conflict.
The Korean diplomat asked for cooperation on looking after Koreans in Israel, saying he looks forward to the safe return of those taken hostage by Hamas. Civilians have to be protected under international humanitarian law, Park added.