Expatriates Exit Japan Amid Concerns for Their Safety

Friday’s earthquake and tsunami and subsequent issues with nuclear power reactors have caused increasing alarm for expatriates living in Japan, many of whom are now making plans to leave the country.

According to newspaper reports, conflicting news regarding the stability of the nuclear reactors is causing significant levels of confusion for expats living in Japan and many of them are now opting to err on the side of caution and leave the country.

Talking to the Sydney Morning Herald, one Australian expat disclosed that he felt the information being provided by the Japanese government and news agencies in Japan was unreliable: “My message is don’t listen to the Japanese media, don’t listen to the Japanese Government because they’re trying to keep Japanese people calm, which I completely understand, but I don’t think that they’re giving the full truth,” Mr Gregoric was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

“I think that by not telling people the complete truth, people aren’t able to make rational decisions, and the only rational decision at the moment is to get out.”

Expanding on the lack of information available he added: “”Even some people have not left Fukushima city, which is one of the worst hit,” he said.

“I still know people who haven’t left Sendai because they just don’t have information.

“The most important thing now is accurate reporting, accurate reporting and information, and honesty, and all those three things are lacking.”

According to the Wall Street Journal many European firms have urged their employees to leave the Tokyo area as soon as possible and send their families home. BMW have issued a guideline to 250 employees based in Japan to leave the region and over 50 expats and their families have already been flown home.

Interestingly it is the expatriates who are working for Japanese companies that have yet to leave Japan. According to the Wall Street Journal Nissan Motor Co. have informed employees that the decision to exit the country is entirely their own.

“There is no plan to repatriate anybody, but if someone specifically requests it, then we will take that under advice,” said Nissan spokesman Simon Sproule from Yokohama. “We’ve suspended all business travel to Japan, but the sense is that we want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Japanese colleagues.”