Australian government warns travellers away from Japan: Tokyo not safe
The Australian government has upgraded its travel warning to "do not travel" to the north of Japan, and "reconsider your need to travel" for Tokyo and surrounds.
In a new development, Australia is also warning against travel to the entire country because of the infrastructure disruption to Tokyo's international airport.
"Because of continuing disruptions to transport, communications, power and other infrastructure, school closures and continuing aftershocks, Australians in Tokyo and affected Prefectures, who do not have a need to be there, should consider departure," the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said in a statement.
The advice is especially important as travel insurers weigh government advice heavily when deciding whether to honour travel insurance claims.
"This advice is not related to fears about nuclear contamination from the Fukushima reactors. We are providing this advice because of the continuing disruption to major infrastructure, its impact on the welfare of people on the ground and continuing aftershocks," DFAT said.
The Government is not planning special evacuation flights, as it says there is ample commercial airline capacity available. For example, today, the government says there are 359 seats available on Qantas and Jetstar flights departing Osaka and Narita (Tokyo) to Cairns and the Gold Coast.
Tomorrow, the government says there are 464 seats on Qantas and Jetstar flights from Osaka and Narita (Tokyo) to Sydney, Cairns and the Gold Coast.
"We would recommend that any Australians wishing to leave the country make their own arrangements. We have a team of five consular officials deployed at Narita Airport on a 24 hour basis to provide assistance to Australians wishing to depart."
Qantas yesterday opted not to accommodate flight crews in Toyko overnight, due to ongoing disruptions to electricity, communications and other essential services. Instead, it will route flights via Hong Kong and exchange flight crews there.
Meanwhile, the UK Foreign and Home Office has advised against "all but essential travel" to north eastern Japan and Tokyo, its strongest warning before flatly saying British citizens should get out of the country using any safe method possible.
The US government -- which is assisting Japan in its efforts to contain its damaged nuclear reactors -- said one of the power plants has run out of water, and nuclear fuel rods are fully exposed, heating up.
It said US citizens and military forces should stay at least 50 mi (80 km) away from the Fukushima nuclear reactor. See our map of where Japan's damaged nuclear reactors are.
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17 Mar 2011
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As an Australian working in western Japan, I would be very unhappy if the Australian government has warned travellers to stay away from all locations in Japan. We are not affected at all. It's like saying don't travel to Sydney because there's a cyclone in Queensland. Totally irresponsible.