Japan warns citizens of possible terror attack in Southeast Asia

The Japanese government warned its citizens in several Southeast Asian nations of a possible terror attack, its embassy in Manila said on Tuesday, September 14. 

The Japanese embassy in Manila had confirmed that a warning was issued to alert its citizens of the threat, but that it could not share more details or disclose the source of its information. News reports from Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand said the advisory had been sent on Monday, September 13. 

“We confirm that Japanese government has received information about a possible terror attack, but we cannot give any detailed background at the moment,” an embassy official told the Philippine News Agency

The Associated Press (AP) had earlier reported that Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged its citizens to stay away from crowds and religious facilities in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar, after it obtained information that “there are increased risks such as suicide bombings.” 

The advisory had been sent to its embassies in countries concerned to be distributed to Japanese citizens, the AP added. 

Southeast Asian countries covered by Japan’s advisory have said there was no new information about heightened security threats in their respective countries. 

Philippine officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and security sector said it has not received officials reports related to the Japanese government’s advisory. 

Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesman Colonel Ramon Zagala said reports on security matters were continuously validated and that based on its last review, the threat level in the country was “moderate.” The Department of National Defense also said they would validate the advisory of the Japan’s foreign ministry.

In Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported that officials said there were “no indications of any attack being planned” which were specific to the country. The Royal Thai Police said, “there are no signs of any new terrorist attacks being plotted in or targeting Thailand at the moment.”

Upon checking with Japanese embassy officials, Thai officials said that, “The embassy couldn't elaborate on the alert either as it has no further information other than that provided in the terrorism alert in question."

Meanwhile, Malaysian officials said the advisory had been a “routine measure” reminding Japanese citizens in the region to take caution “in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States” and recent events in Afghanistan.

Malaysian officials  remain in “close coordination” with Japanese embassy officials, local news outlet The Star reported. 

Leading non-governmental counterterrorism organization SITE Intelligence Group earlier published a report on September 10 that “lone wolves” in the region were “ready” for possible attacks in the region. – With a report from Jairo Bolledo/Rappler. 

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.