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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora