Tokyo embassy staff moved south

Bookmark and Share

Norway’s foreign ministry heightened its warnings against staying in Japan, as new concerns of nuclear contamination gripped the northern part of the country including Tokyo. While Japanese officials in Oslo thanked Norwegians for their support, Norwegian embassy staff in Tokyo moved south.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg signing a condolence protocol for Japan, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the country earlier this month. PHOTO: Statsministerenskontor

The foreign ministry announced Monday that personnel at the Norwegian embassy in Tokyo were being moved temporarily to Kobe, south of the capital. Kobe, itself struck by a fatal earthquake in the 1990s, was believed to be out of harm’s way if radiation spreads from nuclear power plants damaged in the devastating quake and tsunami that hit northern Japan on March 11.

The ministry is also now warning all Norwegians against staying in Tokyo as well as in areas north of the capital. The warning is linked to the “unclear situation” surrounding the nuclear power plants and fears that wind will send radiation towards Tokyo. New concerns arose on Monday.

All persons located within 80 kilometers of the Fukushima nuclear power plant were urged to leave. Warnings were also out for the Tohoku, Chubu and Kanto regions, the latter of which includes Tokyo.

Staff at the Norwegian Embassy will be moving to Norway’s consulate in Kobe but would continue to remain accessible for Norwegians still in Japan. The ministry had set up special flights over the weekend to help Norwegians trying to leave the quake-hit country.

Staff at Japan’s embassy in Oslo, meanwhile, issued a message of thanks for the support that has rolled in from Norwegians during the past week. The embassy wrote that it had received condolences and words of encouragement every day and that its staff deeply appreciated the Norwegians’ sympathy.

In Japan, the embassy wrote, people help each other to overcome difficult circumstances. The Japanese government, the embassy claimed, would do everything it could to save human lives, rebuild damaged areas and gain control over its nuclear power plants.

The embassy expressed thanks for the “sympathy and solidarity” it has received from its “friends in Norway.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
Click on our Readers Respond feature if you’d like to comment on this story.