3/21/2011 - AFS Operations In Japan
The worldwide AFS Community expresses its heartfelt condolences to the people of Japan for the terrible loss of life and devastation wrought by the earthquake of March 11th and its aftermath. You remain in our thoughts and in our hearts.
We express our thanks and admiration to our staff and volunteer colleagues at AFS Japan, who have shown selfless dedication in working to locate all of the AFS participants and their families in Japan at the time of the earthquake and to take the necessary steps to care for the needs of the participants during their own time of grief and loss
AFS International and AFS Japan are monitoring the crisis in Japan on a continuing basis, as our priority focus is always on the safety and well-being of all participants on AFS programs.
When the earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, there were 27 AFS participants being hosted in the country. All of the participants and their host families were quickly accounted for and none had been hurt. None of these participants were in the areas most severely affected by the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. AFS Japan has also confirmed the safety of all of the sending parents, whose children are participants in programs in other AFS Partner countries.
Of the 27 AFS program participants who were hosted in Japan, 25 have left or will soon be leaving the country to return to their home countries. As of March 14, AFS Japan had relocated all AFS participants placed in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area to the southwestern city of Osaka. The two participants now remaining are being hosted in southwest Japan, far from the areas affected by the earthquake and the tsunami. These remaining two AFS program participants have asked to remain in Japan, but will be repatriated should they desire to be, or should the situation in their area change significantly.
The 245 AFS participants that were scheduled to arrive in Japan to begin their programs during the week of March 21st are being advised that their programs have been postponed. No additional students will begin programs in Japan until there is more clarity about the current challenges being faced by the Japanese people including aftershocks, food shortages in Tokyo and northeastern Japan, and the nuclear containment problems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
As conditions are changing rapidly in Japan, and reports on the status of the plant’s damaged nuclear units arrive from moment to moment, AFS and its Crisis Management Team, in consultation with Control Risk Group/International SOS—an international risk management consulting group—and other external entities, will continue to monitor the situation and take the measures that are necessary for the safety and well-being of all AFS participants.