Inside Japan says travel to Japan remains largely unaffected by Monday’s major earthquake, which killed at least 48 people.
The 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Japan’s central western coastline on the Noto Peninusla just after 4pm on New Year’s Day.
Tremors could be felt in Tokyo 190 miles away, but tour operator Inside Japan said there was no disruption in the capital or in other major cities on the eastern seaboard, such as Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto.
The Noto Peninsula experienced a rapid succession of over 40 earthquakes of at least magnitude 3.5, leading to power cuts, transport disruption and some collapsed houses in Wajima city, where a large fire damaged several houses.
Around 1,000 rescue workers are searching rubble for any people who might be trapped, and the Japanese military is handing out food and blankets to those who have lost their homes.
The Japan Coast Guard is also assisting the rescue effort, but a plane carrying crew and supplies to Niigata is understood to have crashed with a Japan Airlines passenger flight at Tokyo’s Haneda airport today and five crew are missing.
Waves of up to 3 meters were reported in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, and a major tsunami warning was issued but this has subsequently been downgraded.
No irregularities were reported at nuclear power plants along the Sea of Japan.
In an update to its travel advice, the Foreign Office (FCDO) warned there had been ‘significant’ structural damage in various parts of Ishikawa Prefecture. “Further aftershocks remain a possibility and transport links are disrupted. If you are in the affected areas, please follow the instructions from the local authorities and check the latest information on NHK World news,” it said.
The affected areas, according to the FCDO, include the Sea of Japan coast in: Ishikawa, Yamagata, Niigata, Toyama, Fukui, Hyogo, Hokkaido, Aomori, Akita, Kyoto, Tottori and Shimane prefectures, plus Iki & Tsushima Islands.
Rail transport in the in the affected areas has been stopped as a precaution and the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Bullet Train) between Toyko and Kanazawa via the west coast has been suspended.
However, in a message on its website, specialist operator InsideJapan said: “We do not anticipate that this earthquake will have any significant impact on travel to Japan.
“The major cities on the east coast are unaffected and although some of the pictures from the Noto Peninsula are quite dramatic with some collapsed houses and large cracks in some roads, Japan is very well geared up to deal with these kinds of incidents.”
InsideJapan said the closest major city to the epicentre is Kanazawa, and although some damage has been sustained, it said it has not received any reports of ‘anything major’.
The operator has more than 300 customers in Japan presently, 15 in the affected area but ‘all are safe and well and continuing with their travels’, it said, while adding that its teams on the ground are monitoring the situation.
“Customer support have also contacted other customers across Japan to provide reassurance and updates if their travel plans require any change,” said an InsideJapan spokesperson.
However, it has advised people travelling to Noto Peninsula in the next couple of weeks to consider changing plans. “For everywhere else in Japan no changes to your plans will be necessary” it added.
The company said its staff in the UK will also be contacting customers and agents that have customers travelling soon to offer reassurance and answer any questions that they may have.
“We express our deepest sympathy to those impacted by the disaster and the people of the Japan Sea Coast region,” it added.