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Update: US State Department Lifts Japan Travel Warning
The U.S. State Department published an updated Travel Alert for Japan, lifting the voluntary authorized departure status instituted on March 16, 2011. This allowed the dependents of U.S. government employees to return to Japan as of April 15, 2011. You can read the updated Travel Alert at travel.state.gov.
Experts from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, and scientists on the ground in Japan assessed the situation and concluded that the health and safety risks to those in areas outside of the 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are very low and don’t pose a significant risk. Even in the event of an unforeseen disruption at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, dangerous exposure to those beyond the 50 mile evacuation zone is highly unlikely. The situation at the power plant is radically different today than it was in March. Currently, there are ongoing cooling efforts and planning is in place to control radioactive contamination and to lessen future dangers. The State Department continues to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid travel within the 50-mile radius of the Fukushima plant.
The U.S. Government recently launched a new service, called The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) , created so that the Department of State can better assist U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad in the state of an emergency. Read AirTreks’ recent blog post about STEP to learn more about the program.
According to our partners in Japan, as well as a few of our clients who recently took trips despite the situation, things are returning to normal in the major cities, as evidenced in our recent blog on Sakura in Tokyo. Our clients who recently traveled to Japan in the beginning of April claimed "things are back to business-as-usual in Tokyo", as they experienced no delays in ground or subway transportation. They went on to say they are very glad they did not cancel their trip. The major cities in Japan, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, Hiroshima, and most other popular destinations, are safe and welcoming tourists. These regions remain unharmed, as they received no disruption to infrastructure, and Tokyo is no longer experiencing blackouts.
Our partners in Japan have been consistently updating us on the situation there. Major attractions in Tokyo have resumed operation, such as Tokyo Disneyland which reopened on April 15th and the Tokyo Metropolitan Governement Building Observation Deck, which provides a bird’s eye view of Tokyo, that reopened on April 18th. Additionally, “Romancecar”, a service of Odakyu’s Electric Railway Co. which visits Hakone National Park and areas of Mt. Fiji, resumed operation. One of our partners recently visited Miyagi Prefecture, the area devastated by last month’s tsunami, and said that though their town has been devastated they are working together to rebuild it and have high hopes of revival and a bright future.
To help rebuild Japan participate in our Matching Donations Challenge. We are matching donations to the Real Medicine Foundation's Japan earthquake and tsunami relief dollar for dollar. Approximately 150,000 people have been reached through the efforts of the Real Medicine Foundation, with the primary beneficiaries being the evacuees at shelters in Ishinomaki city, evacuees located in their own house without food, and elderly persons at nursery houses. Planned future activites include a temporary shelter project, rubble clearance by local companies as revival of local business, and a community kitchen. Please help us reach our goal and double your donation to Japan! The Matching Donations Challenge ends Saturday April 30, 2011. Thank you to those who have participated thus far!