Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday he seeks to improve the rescue operation of the Self-Defense Forces after they were only able to evacuate one Japanese national from Afghanistan in August due to legal restrictions following the Taliban's return to power.

"I have instructed a review on whether we can further improve" SDF operations by removing legal restrictions, Kishida said at parliament in response to questions by LDP policy chief Sanae Takaichi.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks in the parliament in Tokyo on Dec. 13, 2021. (Kyodo)

SDF personnel were dispatched to the region to evacuate around 500 people wishing to leave Afghanistan, including locals who worked for Japanese agencies. However, the troops only evacuated one Japanese as well as 14 Afghans at the request of the United States by the end of their mission on Aug. 31.

Current law limits the SDF to carrying out evacuations from a "safe place."

"I understand it is important to make preparations in nonemergency situations so that we can fully respond in evacuating Japanese nationals when they face a crisis overseas," Kishida added.

Takaichi said the August SDF dispatch was a "difficult mission" as the SDF personnel could not go outside a local airport deemed safe under the law.

Many evacuees failed to reach the airport on their own due to strict Taliban checkpoints and deteriorating security conditions.

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