Japan "strongly condemns" Iran's retaliatory attack on Israel and considers it an escalation that will further destabilize the Middle East, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday.

Japan is "deeply concerned," Kishida said after Iran launched an unprecedented attack on Israel that began on Saturday evening and continued through to the following morning in response to a recent deadly strike on an Iranian consulate in Syria's capital city of Damascus.

"I have instructed relevant ministries and agencies to gather information and coordinate responses with other countries, including to protect Japanese nationals abroad," Kishida told reporters at his office after returning from his trip to the United States.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets the press at his office in Tokyo on April 14, 2024, after Iran launched missiles and drones toward Israel the day before. (Kyodo)

Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa also said in a statement released Sunday that Japan "reiterates its determination to continue to make all necessary diplomatic efforts in order to prevent the further deterioration of the situation."

An Israeli military spokesman said over 300 drones and missiles were launched from Iran. It is the first direct attack to have been carried out by Tehran on Israeli territory.

"Japan has been strongly urging the parties concerned to calm down the situation as peace and stability in the Middle East is extremely important for Japan as well," the Japanese foreign minister said.

Citing heightening tensions, the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Sunday called on people planning to visit Iran to cancel their trips.

For those in Iran wishing to leave the country, the ministry requested they consider doing so while commercial flights are in operation.

The security situation in the Middle East has sharply deteriorated in the wake of a surprise attack by Hamas on southern Israel on Oct. 7 last year, triggering an ongoing Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip that local health officials say has left more than 33,000 people dead.

The latest escalation comes after Iran vowed to retaliate against Israel for bombing an Iranian consulate complex in Damascus on April 1. The attack killed seven Iranian officers, including a top commander, of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Related coverage:

Iran launches attack on Israel in retaliation for embassy strike

Japan to resume funding for U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA

Exiled Iranian royal sees regime change as country's only way forward