'Don't stay if you don't have to,' Irish in Japan are told
IRISH citizens were last night asked to consider whether they should leave Tokyo and the north-east of Japan in the aftermath of Friday's earthquake and amid growing concerns over the country's nuclear crisis.
The Department of Foreign Affairs advised Irish nationals against all "non-essential" travel to Japan, where an estimated 2,000 Irish people are living.
It also asked Irish citizens in Tokyo and the northeast of Japan "to decide whether they need to remain in those areas" and advised those seeking to leave to make travel reservations "as soon as possible".
This was particularly the case for people with small children.
There are no reports of Irish casualties in the affected areas, according to the department.
A full list of contact details for airlines and other transport providers is available on the department's website at www.dfa.ie.
Irish nationals in Japan can contact the Irish Embassy in Tokyo +81 332 630695. Anyone concerned about family or friends is also advised to contact the department at 01 4082000.
The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, meanwhile, repeated its assurance that radioactive material from the stricken Japanese nuclear sites was "extremely unlikely" to reach Ireland.
Amid the exodus from the affected areas, it emerged that three University of Limerick students on work placements in Japan may be moved by their employer away from Tokyo.
Eileen Shanahan from Thurles, Caroline Winters of Ballincollig, Co Cork, and Jennifer Callan from Dooradoyle, Limerick, experienced a magnitude 6 aftershock in Siatama near Tokyo yesterday.
All have since been in touch with their families and their Japanese language lecturer Barbara Geraghty.
"All of them are fine. I spoke with one of them via a Skype video and they have also been in touch by email. They had a large aftershock about 1.45pm our time, but said it was not as bad as they expected it to be," Ms Geraghty said.
In total, 10 UL students are currently in Japan. All are fine and none are within the devastated regions.
An Irishman living in Japan, meanwhile, described a state of utter confusion and fear.
Mike Loughnane (25) from Doora, Co Clare, has been working for a software and robotics company in Chiba, 40 minutes from the centre of Tokyo, for the past six months.
"Nobody knows what's going on here in Tokyo, which is an absolute pain because the government, we reckon, don't want to cause panic to 30 million people so they're not giving much information," he said.
Meanwhile, charities and Irish-Japanese groups have mobilised their efforts to organise help for those made homeless in the disaster.
The Ireland Japan Association has set up a fund to help the homeless in Japan. Details are available on www.ija.ie
Oxfam is also raising funds to help mothers and babies, and non-Japanese nationals. The public can donate at Oxfam shops, by calling Lo-call 1850 304055 or at the charity's website www.oxfamireland.org.
World Vision has launched an appeal. People can donate at www.worldvision.ie or by calling Lo-call 1850 366283.