Japan has brought back 15 South Korean nationals and one foreign national family member from Israel to Tokyo on a Japanese military plane, reciprocating for the second time Korea’s rescue flight last month that included Japanese nationals.
According to the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, the plane landed at Haneda International Airport on Friday evening. Aboard the aircraft are 20 Japanese nationals, four Taiwanese citizens, one Vietnamese national and their five foreign national family members.
“All services necessary to facilitate their return home will be provided,” the ministry said in a text message sent to reporters, adding over 420 Koreans are still in Israel. No Korean casualties have been reported in the Israel-Hamas war since the Palestinian militant group’s Oct. 7 attack. Israel has initiated a ground offensive encircling Gaza City.
The latest gesture of goodwill Friday follows an initial Japanese rescue flight on Oct. 21, when Tokyo flied out 18 Korean nationals and one foreign national family member to thank Korea for the same humanitarian outreach the previous week.
Ties dramatically improved in May when Seoul and Tokyo decided to put behind historical disputes and officially resume shuttle diplomacy, or leader-level visits to each other’s countries, after a 12-year hiatus.
Last month, First Vice Foreign Minister Chang Ho-jin and his Japanese counterpart met in Seoul to discuss policy on a range of global issues including North Korea and China. Restarting a trilateral summit of Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing was one of priorities.
The foreign ministers from the three nations will meet later this month potentially in Busan to finalize the agenda for the trilateral summit, which last took place in 2019 and has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and political tensions.