Issued by US Department of State
Mar 13, 2011
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the situation in Japan in the aftermath of the powerful earthquake, measuring 8.9 magnitude, that struck northern Japan on March 11. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Japan at this time. This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert for Japan dated March 13, 2011, to provide updated information on planned power outages, the evacuation of areas near nuclear power facilities in Fukushima, and the likelihood of further aftershocks and tsunamis. This Travel Alert expires on April 1, 2011.
The Department of State requests all non-emergency official U.S. government personnel defer travel to Japan and urges U.S. citizens to avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Japan at this time. Temporary shortages of water and food supplies may occur in affected areas of Japan due to power and transportation disruptions. Telephone services have also been disrupted in affected areas; where possible, you may be able to contact family members using text message or social media such as Facebook or Twitter.
Flights have resumed at all airports that were closed by the earthquake, except Sendai, Sado, Iwate-Hanamaki, and Misawa Airports. In Tokyo, most public transportation including trains and subways are operating. Many roads have been damaged in the Tokyo area and in northern Japan, particularly in the Miyagi prefecture where government checkpoints have been established on damaged roadways. In Iwate Prefecture, toll road highways are restricted to emergency vehicles only.
U.S. citizens currently in Japan should be aware that rolling power outages are scheduled for the Tokyo Metropolitan area and in northern and central Honshu. Tokyo Electric Company reports that three-hour outages may occur in various regions, including Tokyo, starting the morning of Monday, March 14. Please monitor the Tokyo Electric Power Company website, http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html, and local news media for specific information and schedules for the planned outages. Radio stations in the Tokyo area that have emergency information in English include the U.S. Armed Forces station at 810AM and InterFM (76.1FM).
The Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has recommended that people who live within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Okumacho evacuate the area immediately. Japanese authorities have confirmed that the situation remains serious. U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Fukushima Prefecture should follow NISA instructions to evacuate and comply with Japanese government personnel on the ground. More information on the status of the nuclear facilities and on areas affected by power outages is available on NISA’s website, www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english. You can find more information on radiation emergencies from the Centers for Disease Control Emergency Preparedness and Response’ website at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation.
Strong aftershocks are likely for weeks following a massive earthquake such as this one. The American Red Cross recommends that in the event of aftershocks, persons should move to open spaces away from walls, windows, buildings, and other structures that may collapse, and should be alert to the danger of falling debris. If you are indoors, DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON: If possible, seek cover under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. If there is no table or desk nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you. Avoid damaged buildings and downed power lines. Great care should be used with matches, lighters, candles, or any open flame due to the possibility of disrupted gas lines.
Due to the continuing possibility of strong aftershocks, Japan remains at risk for further tsunamis. Japanese authorities have issued a warning for people to stay away from low-lying coastal areas. If a tsunami alert is issued by Japanese authorities, evacuate immediately to higher ground. Further information about what you can do if a tsunami occurs can be found at 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. Current tsunami alerts can be found at 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.
U.S. citizens in Japan should contact family and friends in the United States to confirm their well-being at the earliest opportunity. Where internet and telephone services are not available, it may be possible to contact people using SMS (Cell text message) or other forms of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. U.S. citizens requiring emergency consular assistance may contact the Department of State at JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov and the emergency contact numbers below.
U.S. citizens in Japan are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at the following website: https://travelregistration.state.gov. 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.
Updated information on travel and security in Japan may 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, which can be found at www.travel.state.gov.