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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid