The U.S. Department of State issued the following Travel Alert on June 9, 2011:
This Travel Alert updates the Travel Alert for Japan dated May 16, 2011. This Travel Alert expires on August 15, 2011.
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
While the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains serious and dynamic, the health and safety risks to land areas which are outside a 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are low and do not pose significant risks to U.S. citizens.
Out of an abundance of caution, we continue to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid travel to destinations within the 50-mile evacuation zone of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. U.S. citizens who are still within this zone should evacuate or shelter in place.
On May 16, the U.S. Government updated its recommendation for the principal transport routes between Tokyo and Sendai that run through the 50-mile evacuation zone. These transport routes are currently open to public use. The U.S. Government believes the health and safety risks associated with using these transport routes are low, and that it is safe for U.S. citizens to use the Tohoku Shinkansen railway and Tohoku Expressway to transit through the area. This guidance is based on measurements taken by U.S. Government scientists; more information may be found at the Department of Energy website, http://blog.energy.gov/content/situation-japan/. This updated guidance on the main railway and expressway routes corresponds to that issued by Japanese authorities.
The U.S. Government also advises that ships operating near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant should follow the U.S. Coast Guard’s recommendations. Information may be found at the U.S. Coast Guard’s website: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/
Risk of Aftershocks
Japan is one of the most seismically active areas in the world. Aftershocks following an earthquake of this magnitude can be expected to continue for more than a year. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. See the Embassy Website for detailed information on earthquake safety:
American Citizen Services
U.S. citizens in Japan are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulates. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy/Consulates to contact them in case of emergency.
For the latest U.S. Government information on the situation in Japan, please visit the Embassy website at http://japan.usembassy.gov. Updated information on travel and security in Japan may also be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1 -202-501-4444. For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information for Japan, as well as the Worldwide Caution.
For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please contact the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit of either the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or one of the U.S. Consulates in Japan listed below:
U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
American Citizen Services
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
After Hours: 03-3224-5000
The U.S. Embassy serves U.S. citizens in Tokyo, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata and Yamanashi.
Osaka-Kobe: 11-5, Nishitenma 2-chome, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543; Tel: 06- 6315-5912, Fax: 06-6315-5914; serving Americans in Osaka, Tel: 06-6315-5912, Fax: 06- 6315-5914; serving U.S. citizens in Osaka, Aichi, Ehime, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kagawa, Kochi, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Shimane, Shiga, Tokushima, Tottori, Toyama, and Wakayama prefectures.
Nagoya: Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor, 1-47-1 Nagano, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001; Tel (052) 581-4501, Fax: (052) 581-3190; providing emergency consular services only (including death and arrest cases) for Americans living in Aichi, Gifu, and Mie prefectures.
Fukuoka: 5-26, Ohori 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052; Tel: 092-751-9331, Fax: 092-713-9222; serving U.S. citizens in Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga and Yamaguchi prefectures.
Sapporo: Kita 1-jo, Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821; Tel: 011- 641-1115, Fax: 011-643-1283; serving U.S. citizens in Akita, Aomori, Hokkaido, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.
Naha: 2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe City, Okinawa 901-2104; Phone: 098.876.4211, Fax: 098.876.4243, DSN: 645-7323; serving U.S. citizens in Okinawa and the Amami Oshima Island group
On May 16, the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs replaced the Travel Alert for Japan that it issued after the recent devastating earthquake with updated recommendations. The text of the Alert can be found herel.
The main changes in the Alert deal with updated recommendations for the safe use of the “…Tohoku Expressway and the Tohoku Shinkansen Railway through the 50-mile evacuation area. Using the same analysis we would use in a similar situation in the United States, the U.S. Government believes it is safe for U.S. citizens to use the railway and expressway for transit through the area. Other portions of this Travel Alert remain unchanged from the Alert published on April 14. This Travel Alert expires on July 15, 2011.”
In respect to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the Alert notes “The assessment of technical and subject matter experts across United States Government agencies is that while the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains serious and dynamic, the health and safety risks to areas beyond the 50-mile evacuation zone, and particularly to Tokyo, Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture), nearby U.S. military facilities, and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Gunma, Iwate, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, and Yamanashi, and those portions of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures which are outside a 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are low and do not pose significant risks to U.S. citizens.” See the complete text of the report for additional details.”
In regards to aftershocks from the March 11 earthquake, the Alert contained this information “Japan is one of the most seismically active areas in the world. Tokyo and areas to the northeast continue to experience strong aftershocks related to the March 11 earthquake. Aftershocks following an earthquake of this magnitude can be expected to continue for more than a year. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. See the Embassy Website for detailed information on earthquake safety: http://japan.usembassy.gov.”
On March 11, at 2:46 local time in Japan, a massive magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck off of the eastern shores of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, resulting in a significant number of deaths and incredible destruction of property/infrastructure. The earthquake, which was centered 234 miles (376 km.) to the northeast of Tokyo, generated a 23-foot high tsunami that devastated the city and port of Sendai and surrounding areas (Sendai is approximately 86 miles from the epicenter). Tokyo sustained damage during the main earthquake and its port was struck by the tsunami waters. Miyagi Prefecture, which is part of the Tohoku region encompassing northern Honshu, received the brunt of the damage from this large earthquake.
The State Department of the United States has issued a travel alert asking citizens to avoid travel to Japan. The alert expires on April 1, 2011.
Seismic aftershocks continue to rock the area (over 50 earthquakes have occurred since the initial shock with numerous temblors above 6.0 on the seismic intensity scale). At present major airports in northern Honshu are closed, including Tokyo’s Narita Airport.
Travelers with tickets for air travel to any airport in this area over the next two weeks should check with their airlines about re-booking at some future date. We can assure you that vacation or “natural disaster travel” would not be appreciate by the authorities or people of Japan at this time.
We extend our sympathies to the people of Japan.
Early Tuesday morning Tokyo suffered its second big quake (6.5) in three days. Some damage was recorded and a few serious injuries, although this was not the “Big One” predicted to hit Tokyo. See this article in the New York Times for more info.
Tokyo and all of Japan are located in an active seismic zone. Travelers to the region should be prepared for earthquakes and know the evacuation procedures for their hotel (locations of emergency exits, stairwells, etc.). Tip: Consider keeping your wallet, room key, passport and moneybelt in the clothes worn that day when you turn in for the night and lay the apparel on a chair near the bed. If you need to evacuate during the night, just grab the outfit and put it on when it is safe to do so.