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Japan travel advisory

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15 March 2011

The Foreign Office said in a statement: "We advise against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and north-eastern Japan given the damage caused by the 11 March earthquakes and resulting aftershocks and tsunamis."

Authorities have warned the death toll from the Friday's earthquake and tsunami could rise above 10,000. An estimated 30,000 people are in temporary shelters, they say, while vast swathes of the country are also suffering major shortages of food and water.

The Japanese Meteorological Association announced on 13 March that there is a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 or greater earthquake in the same region as the 9.0 earthquake within the next three days. This may trigger another tsunami and aftershocks of more than magnitude 6.0. The Japanese authorities have issued a warning to stay away from low-lying coastal areas.

The Foreign Office is actively monitoring the situation at nuclear facilities and urge British nationals to observe the advice being given by Japanese authorities, including the 20km exclusion zone around the Fukushima facility.

"This is consistent with the severity of the reported incident, with the independent information that we have, and with international practice.  

"We are keeping our advice under constant review, taking into account statements from the Japanese authorities and informed by independent UK scientific and health experts," the statement said.

Travellers should be aware that Japan's transport systems are experiencing severe disruption with local transport systems badly affected. Japan Rail trains from Tokyo station are not operating or are subject to severe delays.

The bullet trains are in service and the Tokyo monorail remains in operation, however the Tokyo metro is operating a reduced service. There is no Narita Express airport service.

If travelling to Japan you should be aware that there is still widespread transport disruption, widespread power-cuts and disruption to water supplies and temporary shortages of supplies to shops throughout the affected areas, as well as intermittent mobile and telephone reception. There are also reports of electricity shortages.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has now announced the timing of rotating power cuts in five groups, which will affect roughly three million people. Electricity will be cut off from 06:20 on 14 March.

The prefectures affected are: Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Shizuoka and Yamanashi. Each group consists of small districts scattered across the affected prefectures and the pattern of power cuts across the TEPCO supply district will be very difficult to predict. Tokyo is also affected, except for the 23 wards that make up the central part of Tokyo, where there will be no power cut off until 15 March at the earliest.

The eruption of Shinmoedake Volcano on the southern island of Kyushu continues to affect surrounding areas and is causing local travel disruption. The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) has upgraded its advisory level from 2 to 3, restricting access into affected areas. The JMA expects the eruption to continue and possibly grow in scale.

Tokyo Narita Airport is open, although flights to and from the airport are experiencing some disruptions, while Tokyo Haneda Airport is also open, although flights are subject to cancellation.

British Airways, JAL, Virgin Atlantic and ANA are operating. However, travellers are strongly advised to contact their airlines before they travel.

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