A large number of foreign residents in Japan rushed to the Justice Ministry’s Tokyo Immigration Bureau on Thursday to seek re-entry permits before leaving the earthquake-hit country temporarily, Kyodo News Agency reported.
More than 2,500 foreign residents formed a long queue in and outside the immigration office in Tokyo as of noon, apparently due to fears over a possible nuclear disaster involving the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the report said.
The bureau received requests for re-entry permits from some 10,000 foreign residents Wednesday and the figure on Thursday could exceed it, according to the report.
Britain has advised its nationals living in Tokyo and areas north of the Japanese capital to consider leaving, while the Russian Foreign Ministry has announced it will evacuate the families of diplomats working at the Russian Embassy in Tokyo, possibly from Friday, the report said.
A series of accidents occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, 230 km north of Tokyo, since Friday when the plant was hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, spreading fears of a possible radiation leak.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Japan on Thursday recommended American citizens who live within 80 km of the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to evacuate the area or to take shelter indoors if safe evacuation is not practical “as a precaution.”
However, Japan’s top government said Thursday it has no plans to expand the evacuation area at the time being, although it expressed understanding over the advisory by the US Embassy.
“Data reported by the science ministry shows that the radiation level does not immediately pose a risk to human health,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.
The Japanese government is currently setting the evacuation zone as areas within a 20-km radius of the plant and advises those within a 30-km radius to stay indoors.