News / Asia

Japan, Foreign Embassies Break Step on Evacuation Advice

French residents in Japan and French citizens prepare to check in to a special charter flight to Paris, at Narita airport, March 17, 2011
French residents in Japan and French citizens prepare to check in to a special charter flight to Paris, at Narita airport, March 17, 2011
Martyn Williams

Some foreign governments have begun advising their citizens to leave Japan, as the outlook for a crippled nuclear power plant becomes increasingly unclear. On Thursday the United States and Britain joined several other nations in recommending their citizens consider leaving the capital or the country.  

Until Thursday, the U.S. had been telling its citizens to follow Japanese advice -- a 20 kilometer evacuation zone around the plant and the need to stay inside and close windows in a 20 to 30 kilometer zone.

Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Ambassador John Roos said the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, was in agreement with Japan.

"Our experts continue to be in agreement, and particularly the NRC statement that came out, that they recommended following the advice of the Japanese government in this regard," Roos said.

Advice shift

Twelve hours later, that had changed.

The United States warned citizens in an 80 kilometer zone to evacuate or stay indoors. The same advice was issued by the governments of other countries, including Britain, Canada, Australia and South Korea.

Asked about the change in advice to U.S. citizens, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a news conference, it's "understandable" that the United States would make a "more conservative decision" to keep its citizens safe.

Foreign nationals were also told to consider leaving the Japanese capital, Tokyo. It wasn't because of radiation fears, the British embassy said, but because of potential disruptions to the supply of goods, transport, communications and power.

Whatever the reason, the underlying message is the same: foreign governments are starting to doubt the Japanese government's ability to handle the situation.

Charter flights

Some governments, including the United States, Britain and France, organized charter flights to take out their nationals on Thursday evening.

For foreign residents in Tokyo, the result is confusion. Yanngael Seznec is a French citizen, and says he's been hearing different messages from Japan and France.

"I think the French are too afraid and Japan is too calm," Seznec said.

Seznec added that he is planning to take his government's advice and leave Japan.

"I think the situation is not finished in Fukushima," Yanngael added. "They don't control anything so it's not safe."

Crisis management

The government is also facing criticism of its handling of the nuclear crisis at home.

Mizuho Fukushima, leader of Japan's Social Democratic Party, was collecting money for disaster victims in central Tokyo.

Fukushima says the government should have provided clearer instructions from the beginning, ordering women and children away from the area, and starting with a larger exclusion zone and reducing it as safety allowed.

And on Thursday evening a new crisis for the capital. As temperatures dropped, electricity demand rose and the government warned of the possibility of a massive power blackout. Rail services have been slashed, companies closed early and residents were asked to switch off heaters.

It may be cold in Tokyo, said government spokesman Edano, but there are evacuation centers without enough heat, water or blankets.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid