Tue, Jun 19, 2018 - Page 1 News List

President sends condolences to Japan following quake

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Residents line up yesterday to collect drinking water at an elementary school in Takatsuki, Japan, after an earthquake disrupted water supplies.

Photo: AFP

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday asked Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) to convey her deepest sympathy and concern to Japan on behalf of Taiwan’s government and people after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake rocked the Osaka area.

“She hopes the damage from the earthquake will be as limited as possible and that the people of Japan are safe and sound,” Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) said.

Tsai also asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to offer assistance to Taiwanese expatriates and tourists affected by the earthquake, Lin said.

All Taiwanese students studying in Japan were unharmed, the Ministry of Education said.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Osaka data showed that there are 2,922 Taiwanese students in the Kansai area: 1,561 in Osaka, 594 in Kyoto, 190 in Hyogo, 42 in Nara, 12 in Wakayama, 23 in Aichi and 41 in Hiroshima, the ministry said.

The Tourism Bureau said tour groups were not affected by the morning quake.

Seven Taiwanese travel agencies that arrange package tours to Japan had been contacted, and all their clients were reported safe and planning to continue their trips.

Cola Tours (可樂旅遊) has 755 tourists in Japan, while Richmond Tours (山富旅遊) and Life Tours (五福旅遊) have 200 and 236 respectively, bureau statistics showed.

Lion Travel Service Co (雄獅旅行社) and other agencies said that they would have more comprehensive reports when their offices reopen today after the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, the bureau said.

Osaka is the second-most popular travel destination in Japan for Taiwanese, welcoming more than 1 million Taiwanese visitors annually, Travel Agent Association spokesman Ringo Lee (李奇嶽) said.

Due to the holiday, the association was unable to obtain the exact number of Taiwanese traveling in Osaka, but it had not received reports about any Taiwanese being affected by the quake from agencies, he said.

“Travelers in the tour groups are often scheduled to wake up at 6:30am, eat breakfast at 7am and head out at 8am. The earthquake struck before 8am, so they should still have been in their hotels. The buildings in Japan are highly resistant to earthquakes and it is relatively safer to stay indoors,” Lee said.

One tour group missed its flight home after train systems were suspended after the quake, but arrangements have been made for the group to take the next available flight, he said.

People might want to refrain from visiting Osaka or other destinations in the Kansai area out of concern for aftershocks, so travel agencies might begin to arrange tours to other parts of Japan instead, he added.

Travel blogger “943” posted on Facebook that independent travelers need to closely monitor changes to Japan’s railway systems as some of them suspended their services after the earthquake.

Universal Studio was also temporarily closed, the blogger said.

China Airlines (中華航空) and EVA Airways (長榮航空) said their flights to Japan were operating normally.

Additional reporting by Ann Maxon and CNA

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