Irish are urged to quit Tokyo as fears grow
IRISH citizens have now been urged to leave parts of Japan amid growing concern about the country's nuclear crisis.
In a "tightening" of its advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs said that, given the present situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and the disruption to the supply of essential goods and services, it was encouraging Irish citizens to consider leaving Tokyo and the north east of the country.
Up to 700 Irish citizens live in the Tokyo area but the department said last night that a number of them had opted to stay.
A spokesman said the department was not aware of any Irish citizens living in the area near the nuclear plant in the north east. It advised those wishing to leave to use commercial flights or local train and bus services if they intended to remain elsewhere in Japan.
"As the department has received no indication that any Irish citizen has been unable to secure a flight or train reservation out of affected areas, it has not been necessary to provide our own national charter options at this stage," it added.
Both the US and UK governments have chartered flights to evacuate some of their citizens. A small number of EU member states have also arranged assisted departure options for their citizens on chartered flights.
"We understand that seats on these flights, other than in exceptional personal circumstances, are being charged at commercial rates," a department spokesman said.
According to the department, neither the embassy, nor the Consular Crisis Centre in Dublin had been informed of any citizen who wished to leave being unable to do so.
"Should anybody be in that position, or know of anyone in that position, they should immediately contact the embassy or the Consular Crisis Centre," the spokesman added.
But Irishman Neil Day, who has lived in Japan for the past 24 years, said he had no intention of leaving Tokyo. The owner of Paddy Foley's Irish bar in the city said there had been a lot of scaremongering.
"If you took a flight from Tokyo to New York you would be exposed to more radiation than has been over Tokyo in the past few days," he said. "The Irish Government is right to say to people they should consider leaving but I'm not leaving any time soon."
Meanwhile, Dublin Lord Mayor Gerry Breen yesterday opened a book of condolence at City Hall for those affected by the earthquake.
He said the gesture was to help Irish people who had a sense of frustration that they could not express their sympathy to the Japanese people.
Other books of condolence have been opened at the Japanese Embassy building on Nutley Lane, Dublin, and by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Co Council at County Hall, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.