Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Embassies quick to move students out of Japan’s town after quake

Frightened chatter in various languages was heard among hundreds of foreign students and tourists who filled evacuation shelters here after the magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck before dawn on April 16. By the morning of April 19, the number of foreign evacuees in the 18 shelters had dwindled to just 12, according to the city government. The once-noticeable foreign presence in this city famed for its hot spring resorts diminished after embassies and other diplomatic missions swiftly moved their nationals out of harm’s way on the southern main island of Kyushu. According to a Beppu government official, about 4,000 non-Japanese reside in the city. The largest group consists of Chinese, followed by South Koreans, Vietnamese and Indonesians. Among the total, 3,000 are international students from 83 countries who attend Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU). APU has canceled classes through April 22, and foreign governments have taken no chances because aftershocks were still being felt in the city.” The South Korean Consulate General in Fukuoka in the northern part of Kyushu announced on its website at 10 a.m. on April 16: “We will arrange three buses to leave Beppu Station to Fukuoka Airport.” That afternoon, about 90 tourists and 35 APU students from South Korea, as well as visitors from Thailand, Hong Kong and Switzerland, boarded the buses. Two additional buses were dispatched on April 17 to carry about 80 South Koreans to Fukuoka. The Thai Embassy has opened a temporary evacuation center for its nationals in Fukuoka Prefecture. APU classes are expected to resume on April 25 after the weekend.



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