Humanitarian Health Action

FAQs: Japan nuclear concerns

September 2011

Travel advice

What is the WHO travel advice for Japan?

  • WHO has not issued an advise on general restrictions regarding travel to Japan.
  • During the early phase of the emergency, travellers were advised to avoid travel to the areas most affected by the earthquake and tsunami because of disruptions to essential services, such as transport and electric power. The ongoing disaster relief activities, including the nuclear power plant emergency response and control activities, would have made travel difficult and could have consumed resources needed by relief workers and residents. Moreover, as indicated by the Japanese authorities, travel within the evacuation and exclusion zones surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was prohibited.
  • In general, travellers who do not have essential reasons to travel were advised to give careful consideration to deferring travel to any areas where there had been considerable disruption to the normal infrastructure and where authorities were responding to urgent humanitarian needs.
  • The situation in Japan has improved. Residents are being temporary allowed access into some areas that had been evacuated, but restrictions still exist. The Government of Japan is monitoring the situation and plans to lift restrictions once safety conditions are met.
  • Information on the status of the nuclear facilities in Fukushima can be found on Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) website and on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) website.
  • Travellers should be aware of the risk of further earthquakes across Japan. Moreover, there may be areas of power, fuel, food and water shortages.

Do travellers returning from Japan represent a health risk for others?

At this time, only those involved in the emergency response near the nuclear power plant remain in the area where there are higher levels of radioactivity. For their own safety, all personnel in these areas should undergo decontamination procedures when they leave the site. Travellers returning from Japan who have come from the 20 km evacuation zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and who have undergone proper screening and decontamination procedures, and travellers from all other areas, do not pose a radioactive health risk to others and do not require screening.