Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 15, 2011

Newsline: Embassy Urges Americans to Leave Japan as Radiation Levels Rise in Tokyo

Several embassies, including the US Embassy, advised their citizens to leave affected areas, including Tokyo. Some multinational companies either told staff to leave or were considering relocating outside the city. Officials in Tokyo 150 miles south of the plant said radiation in the Tokyo, which is 150 miles south of the nuclear plant, is 10 times normal. World-wide concerns are being raised about the safety of nuclear power, and just at a time when it has seen a resurgence as an alternative to fossil fuels.



Newsline: No plans for evacuation of Russian diplomats from Japan

There are no plans for evacuating Russian diplomats from Japan for the time being, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced at a press conference after a meeting of G8 foreign ministers on Tuesday. “As far as the embassy staff are concerned, we are monitoring the radiation background (in the country) in close contact with the Japanese authorities,” he said. “If necessary, the appropriate action will be taken.”



Newsline: Swiss embassy staff in Tokyo remain at work

Urs Bucher, the Swiss ambassador in Japan, tells swissinfo.ch he and his team are staying in Tokyo despite reports of a spreading radioactive cloud. swissinfo.ch: After the third explosion in the Fukushima nuclear power plant do you still feel safe in Tokyo? Urs Bucher: At the moment it’s hard to say what’s going to happen with the damaged nuclear reactors, plus aftershocks are possible. We therefore recommend all Swiss living in the crisis zone of northeastern Japan and in the metropolitan areas of Tokyo/Yokohama to leave temporarily unless they really need to be there. There is naturally a level of uncertainty, but people are following the government’s reports on the situation on a regular basis. And we’re obviously following those issued by the Swiss authorities.



Newsline: French embassy retracts warning

In Tokyo, the French embassy today retracted an earlier statement indicating that a radioactive cloud was headed for the capital, saying the city was not at risk. “Preliminary information gathered early in the morning was not confirmed and was immediately removed from the embassy’s website,” a spokesman told AFP. “The weather forecast indicates that the wind is changing direction – Tokyo is not threatened by radioactive fallout,” an embassy statement said.



Newsline: International Travel warnings after Japan’s earthquake

AUSTRIA: – Austria maintained a partial travel advisory for Japan. It recommended all Austrians leave northeastern Japan and urged cancelling all trips to Japan that are not essential.


— “All Austrians, especially families with children in the greater Tokyo/Yokohama area, are advised to consider leaving the country temporarily or leaving the area,” the foreign ministry said on its website.


BANGLADESH: — Bangladesh has instructed its mission in Tokyo to relocate its citizens to a safer place free from radiation, the government said on Tuesday.


— Foreign Minister Dipu Moni asked for their temporary relocation, officials said, adding that possibly the embassy will be shifted to a southern Japanese city such as Hiroshima or Nagasaki, which are safe from radiation as per Japan’s announcement.


BRITAIN: — Britain’s Foreign Office travel advice is unchanged from Monday/weekend. It has advised against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and the northeast of Japan.


CANADA: — Canada warned its citizens to avoid all travel within 20 km (12 miles) of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, and avoid non-essential travel to areas of northern Japan that were near the quake and hit by the subsequent tsunamis.


— Canadians were also warned to “exercise a high degree of caution” in traveling to the Tokyo region because of damage suffered by its transport, power and telecommunication systems. The warning note said there would be rolling blackouts in the Tokyo area starting March 14.


CROATIA: — Croatia recommended that citizens postpone any journeys to Japan. It advised Croatian citizens currently in Japan not to travel to the areas affected by the disaster and to remain in contact with the embassy in Tokyo for further notice.


FINLAND: — Finland said on Tuesday all travel to Japan, especially to Tokyo and northeastern Japan, should be avoided. It urged families with children to consider leaving the area.


FRANCE: The French embassy in Tokyo urged its citizens in the Japanese capital to stay indoors and close their windows, saying a low-level radioactive wind could reach the city within 10 hours, based on current winds.


— It had earlier strongly advised its nationals not to travel to Japan because of the high threats of aftershocks.


GERMANY: — “Non-essential travel to Japan is inadvisable,” the Foreign Ministry website says.


ITALY: — Italy advises against all non necessary travel to Japan. The Foreign Ministry recommends in particular to avoid, for now, the north-east area. Italian citizens already in Japan are asked to keep in contact with the Italian Embassy in Tokyo and the Italian Consulate in Osaka.


NETHERLANDS: — Dutch citizens in the Kanto region, including Tokyo, and areas to the north and north east of this region, should consider leaving this part of Japan temporarily, the Dutch foreign affairs ministry said on Monday. Non-essential travel to this region should be avoided, the ministry said, citing the incidents at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.


NEW ZEALAND: — New Zealand’s foreign ministry continues to advise avoiding all non-essential travel to Tokyo and the affected northeastern regions.


NORWAY: — The Norwegian foreign ministry put out a bulletin on Tuesday advising against travel to Japan. Norwegian citizens were encouraged to follow the advice of local authorities and see updated information on the embassy in Tokyo’s homepage. The warning highlighted the unresolved situation of nuclear power plants.


PHILIPPINES: — Non-essential embassy personnel and dependents are being sent home, the Philippines’ ambassador to Tokyo, Manuel Lopez, said. Lopez said Filipinos in Japan who want to go home can do so, with the embassy helping them make arrangements for their flights home. “We can help them make arrangements with airlines, but we have no authority yet from the government to get them all out,” he said.


PORTUGAL: — Portugal foreign ministry’s website has a travel recommendation saying that “all non-essential trips to Japan are inadvisable given the situation in the country.”


SERBIA – Serbia called on Tuesday all country’s nationals to leave Japan on regular flights, or contact the embassy in Tokyo and follow local emergency procedures.


SLOVAKIA: — Slovakia has recommended citizens not to travel to affected regions in Japan and delay planned trips to other regions, including Tokyo.


SLOVENIA: — Slovenia has warned its nationals not to travel to Japan unless necessary.


— “We advise against any non-urgent travels to the troubled areas of Japan. To those Slovenian citizens that cannot postpone their travel to Japan, we advise extreme caution and additional checking of conditions in areas to which they are traveling,” the foreign ministry said on its website.


SOUTH KOREA: — The South Korean foreign ministry has issued a travel advisory for Japan. It advised against travel to the Fukushima area and other areas north of Tokyo.


SWEDEN: — Sweden on Tuesday put out a bulletin advising against any non-essential travel to Japan. The foreign ministry bulletin highlighted travel to Tokyo and northeastern Japan and expanded a previous recommendation cautioning against voyages to the Japanese prefectures hardest hit by the quake and tsunami.


UNITED STATES: — The State Department urged U.S. citizens to avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Japan at this time and also requests all non-essential official U.S. government personnel defer travel to Japan.



Newsline: China’s embassy urges evacuation

China’s embassy in Japan on Tuesday called for an orderly evacuation of Chinese nationals from the areas worst hit by the catastrophic earthquake and ensuing damage to nuclear reactors. The Chinese embassy has been making an all-out effort to rescue and help Chinese citizens affected by Friday’s massive earthquake and resulting devastating tsunami, it said in an urgent notice posted on its website. The embassy was organizing the evacuation “due to the seriousness of and uncertainty surrounding the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant at present,” it said. “We hope our compatriots in the worst-hit disaster areas remain calm, listen to instructions, understand and cooperate with the evacuation operation,” the embassy said. The embassy in Tokyo and the Chinese consulate in Niigata would send buses to four areas in Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Iwate prefectures to pick up Chinese nationals and help them return home, according to the notice.



Newsline: Bangladesh to evacuate Tokyo embassy to Hiroshima or Nagasaki

Bangladesh on Tuesday said it was moving its embassy out of Tokyo amid fears of a meltdown at a Japanese nuclear power plant following last weeks’ quake and tsunami, a minister said. ‘We have instructed the embassy officials to relocate the office to the southern part of Japan as the mission site in Tokyo is reported not to be safe,’ Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told a press conference. Hiroshima or Nagasaki would be possible safer places for relocation, she said, adding that 12,000 Bangladeshis living in Japan would also be taken to a safer zone.