State Department Warns Against US Travel to Japan

Mar 13th, 2011 | By | Category: Travel

The US State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs advised US citizens to avoid non-emergency travel to Japan Sunday, following Friday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake. The alert is in effect through April 1, pending updates on planned power outages, evacuation near nuclear facilities in Fukushima, and the outlook for aftershocks and tsunamis.

T38 20110311Houshu State Department Warns Against US Travel to Japan

NOAA depiction of the Japan tsunami's 2011

Due to disruptions of water, food, power, and communication, the State Department asks all non-emergency official US government personnel to defer trips to Japan, and requests US citizens to refrain from tourism and other non-essential travel to Japan. For cases where contact with family members has been disrupted by telephone outages, text messaging and social media such as Facebook and Twitter are suggested as possible alternatives.

Flights have resumed at most airports closed down by the quake, with the exceptions of Sendai, Sado, Iwate-Hanamaki, and Misawa Airports. Most public transportation in Tokyo is operating, including trains and subways. Many roads are damaged, and some areas have set up government checkpoints and restricted access for emergency vehicles only.

US citizens already in Japan are advised that rolling power outages are scheduled for the Tokyo Metropolitan area and northern and central Honshu. For official information, consult the Tokyo Electric Power Company website, http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html, local news media, and the US Armed Forces station at 810AM and InterFM (76.1FM).

The Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) recommends that anyone within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Okumacho evacuate immediately. US citizens should follow NISA instructions. For more information go to NISA’s website, www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english. For information on radiation emergencies, see the Centers for Disease Control Emergency Preparedness and Response’ website at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation.

Strong aftershocks are expected for weeks. In the event of aftershocks, the Red Cross recommends that those outdoors should move away from structures such as walls to open spaces and avoid falling debris, while those indoors should drop, cover, and hold on, seeking cover under a desk or table if possible and protecting your eyes with your arm. When no table or desk is nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows or tall furniture like bookcases that could fall. Avoid damaged buildings and power lines, and take care using flame due to disrupted gas lines.

Tsunamis are also expected. Avoid low-lying coastal areas and follow instructions from Japanese authorities. For information about what to do during a tsunami, see the National Weather Service’s TsunamiReady website, http://www.tsunamiready.noaa.gov, and the International Tsunami Information Center’s website, http://itic.ioc-unesco.org. For tsunami alerts, see the Japan Meteorological Agency website, http://ww.jma.go.jp/en/tsunami/, and the website of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, http://ptwc.weather.gov.

US citizens requiring emergency consular assistance may contact the Department of State at JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov, at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or through a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the United States and Canada. These numbers may also be called for updated information on travel and security in Japan.

To make it easier for the US Embassy/Consulates to contact US citizens in Japan in case of emergency, US citizens are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://travelregistration.state.gov, or directly at the US Embassy or US Consulates.

For further information, please visit www.travel.state.gov and see the Country Specific Information for Japan, as well as the Worldwide Caution.

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