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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid