Japan’s Foreign Ministry warned its citizens living in six Southeast Asian countries on Monday, Sept. 14, to avoid religious sites and gatherings, citing the threat of an assault.
According to the ministry, “increased risks such as suicide bombings,” have been identified.
AP News reported Japanese citizens in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar are advised to exercise caution.
These countries are not Japan’s rivals or enemies, and Tokyo’s relations with most of them are reasonably stable.
Through economic cooperation, alternative connectivity efforts, and security engagements, Japan has undertaken a successful diplomatic campaign in Southeast Asia to boost harmonious relations and oppose China’s influence.
The warning issued on Monday sent shockwaves throughout these countries.
The Japanese embassy in Malaysia published an alert on its website on Monday morning.
“There is information that there is an increasing possibility that suicide bomb attacks will occur in places where many people gather, such as places of worship,” it said.
“We ask all Japanese residents to remain vigilant against terrorist attacks,” it added.
The letter advised Japanese citizens to avoid visiting sites that could be targeted, such as “Western-owned” establishments like restaurants and hotels.
Several of those countries expressed surprise at the warning, claiming that they were unaware of such a threat or that Japan had not provided any details about the source of its intelligence.
Thailand’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Tanee Sangrat, said Japan had not identified the source of the warning and that the Japanese Embassy had no further information beyond that it was “not specific to Thailand.”
According to deputy police spokesman Kissana Pathanacharoen, Thai security agencies have no information of their own about a possible threat.
Similarly, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said it was unaware of an elevated threat level.
On Tuesday, Sept.14, Philippine security officials said they had not received any reports about possible terror threats in the country, CNN reported.
Meanwhile, Teuku Faizasyah, a spokeswoman for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, denied any warning to the Japanese people.
According to national police chief Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, Malaysian police have not received any information or detected any security threats.
Japan’s citizens were advised to pay special attention to local news and information and exercise caution “for the time being,” but no particular timeline or other details were provided.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry refused to reveal the information’s source or if it had been shared with other countries.
It added that the alert had been sent to its embassies in the affected nations for distribution to Japanese citizens.