March 15, 2011
China became the first government to issue a mass evacuation order of all its citizens from the entire north east of Japan late last night.
Citing “the seriousness of and uncertainty surrounding the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant at present”, the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo announced that it would be sending buses to evacuate all Chinese nationals from the Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Iwate prefectures.
There are thought to be over 22 thousand Chinese nationals working in those areas. Those that are bussed out will be flown out of the country via China Southern Airlines on huge 272 seater jets.
Austria followed suit by announcing it would be moving its embassy from Tokyo to Osaka, over 250 miles (400 kilometers) away, due to radiation concerns. France and Finland have also urged their citizens to leave Tokyo and either move to the South of Japan or get out of the country altogether.
The Czech military has reportedly sent in planes to evacuate its nationals, While Russia says it is preparing to remove all of its soldiers and civilians from the Kuril islands, which are disputed with Japan.
Inside Russia, in the Far East of the country, military units are reportedly preparing to evacuate towns on concerns of nuclear fallout, while residents are rushing to buy iodine pills.
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has issued a warning to Americans saying they “should avoid travel to Japan at this time.” Several other European countries have done the same.
Reuters reports that several multinational companies have also issued evacuation orders, yet American based companies, including JP Morgan and Citigroup banks have refrained from doing so because they are following guidance by the U.S. embassy, which has not urged nationals to leave Tokyo.
Airlines including Lufthansa have begun canceling flights to Tokyo.
Journalists, tourists and even residents are also lining up at airports to get away as soon as they can, according to reports.
Those that have stayed have emptied the shelves of grocery stores in Tokyo, which have practically all sold out of rice, noodles and bread and other items such as radios, flashlights, candles, fuel cans and sleeping bags.
The prevailing popular mood in the Japanese capital now seems to be that the public is not being told of the true scale of the danger they are in and the government cannot be trusted as a reliable source of information. Many have chosen to simply leave as quickly as possible.