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Talk of the day -- U.S. evacuees arrive in Taiwan from Japan

2011/03/18 23:27:19

With a radiation crisis at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichinuclear power plant seemingly spiraling out of control, the UnitedStates is evacuating some of its citizens from Japan.

A group of 96 American evacuees, mostly U.S. diplomatic personneland their dependents, arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airportfrom Tokyo at 0: 53 a.m. Friday aboard a charter flight operated byChina Airlines (CAL), Taiwan's largest carrier.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) , which represents U.S.interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties,announced Thursday it would suspend visa processing for Taiwanesecitizens from Friday to focus on American evacuees.

Major local newspapers prominently reported the arrival ofAmerican personnel Friday.

The following are excerpts from the local media coverage of theevent:

United Daily News:

The U.S. Department of State announced Thursday that it wouldevacuate some personnel stationed in Japan and their dependents, withTaiwan and South Korea as temporary shelters.

Three CAL aircraft have been chartered to carry up to 800 or 900American evacuees to Taiwan.

AIT spokesperson Sheila Paskman said Thursday that because of itslimited work force, it had to suspend visa services for Taiwanpassport holders for the time being.

Premier Wu Den-yih said the U.S. decision to use Taipei as atransit hub for its evacuees indicates that Taiwan is a reliablefriend. Given the longtime bilateral friendship, Taiwan willdefinitely offer all necessary assistance to U.S. evacuees, he added.

Taiwan's National Immigration Agency increased the number ofofficers on duty at the airport to facilitate the processing of theAmerican arrivals, and dozens of AIT staff were also at the airportto help them get through immigration before helping them check intotransit hotels near the airport or hotels in downtown Taipei.

Their arrivals marked the first time since the breakup ofTaiwan-U.S. diplomatic ties that a large group of U.S. officials haveentered Taiwan. (March 18, 2011).

China Times:

As Japan still struggled to bring the disabled nuclear powerplant under control, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo posted a notice on itswebsite saying it would evacuate American expats intending to departJapan to other Asian cities free of a radiation threat, includingSeoul and Taipei.

Premier Wu said the U.S. choice of Taipei as one of its evacuees'transit stops indicated it attached importance to its ties withTaiwan.

The U.S. is one of many countries around the world evacuatingsome of their citizens from Japan, which is fighting to tame anuclear crisis in the wake of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunamithat devastated the country on March 11.

France sent two military aircraft to evacuate its expats onThursday, and Germany relocated some of its diplomatic personnel inTokyo to Osaka, which is located farther away from the troubledFukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (March 18, 2011).

Liberty Times:

Local travel agencies said the AIT's suspension of visaprocessing for Taiwan citizens will not have a major impact onU.S.-bound group tours because tour groups scheduled to depart beforeApril 15 have all obtained U.S. visas.

The U.S. government has agreed to let dependents of its 600-plusdiplomats in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama to leave Japan, with Seouland Taipei as their transit stops. (March 18, 2011).

(By Sofia Wu)
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