Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa asked her Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian to "play a role" in defusing the conflict between Israel and Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas during their phone talks Tuesday, the Japanese government said.

Kamikawa also told a press conference earlier in the day Japan will provide $10 million in aid for civilians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to deal with the humanitarian crisis amid the ongoing war in the Middle East.

During the 20-minute talks, Kamikawa asked Iran to "work on Hamas and play a role in calming the situation," the Foreign Ministry said in a press release. She reiterated Japan's condemnation of Hamas for its "terror attacks" that cannot be justified on any grounds.

Iran, backing Hamas in the conflict with Israel, is seen by the United States and others as engaging in destabilizing activities in the region through the Hezbollah militant group, Tehran's proxy that wields power in Lebanon.

An injured child is taken to a hospital as Israeli airstrikes continue in Palestine's Gaza Strip on Oct. 16, 2023. (Anadolu Agency/Getty/Kyodo) 

The two ministers also agreed on the importance of the international community being united in delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza and pledged to continue close communication between Tokyo and Tehran, according to the ministry.

The $10 million in emergency humanitarian relief to the Palestinian enclave will be delivered through international institutions, Kamikawa said.

"We will keep making diplomatic efforts...so that necessary aid, such as food, water, medical and health services, will reach innocent civilians and Palestinian refugees," she said.

Stability in the Middle East is important for Japan, which is highly dependent on crude oil imports from the region. Japan is also a close U.S. ally but has traditionally maintained friendly ties with Iran, Israel's longtime enemy.

As part of Japan's efforts to help reduce tensions in the Middle East, Kamikawa has already held phone talks with her counterparts from countries in the region such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as well as Israel and Palestine.

Israel and Hamas have been at war since the Islamist militant group mounted a surprise attack from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on Oct. 7, triggering Israeli retaliation. Thousands of people on both sides have died so far.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has been rapidly worsening as Israel has put the enclave under siege and cut off basic utilities, and its warning against residents to evacuate from Gaza's north has displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

In a related move on Tuesday, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hideki Murai told a separate news conference that the government is considering evacuating Japanese citizens in Israel on Self-Defense Forces aircraft later this week.

To prepare for the possible evacuation operation, three SDF planes left Japan on Saturday, two of which have arrived in Jordan on Tuesday, with one on standby at an SDF base in Djibouti in East Africa since Monday.

On Saturday, 51 Japanese nationals were evacuated from Israel on a South Korean military transport aircraft to an air base outside Seoul, and eight more left Tel Aviv for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on a Japan-chartered flight on Sunday.

Around 900 Japanese people remain in Israel and Palestinian territories, including "a small number" of nationals in Gaza that the government has kept in close communication with, according to Kamikawa.

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