SYDNEY – Australia is trying to reassure Japan it is a safe tourist destination after the Japanese government posted a travel advisory issued by Victoria state listing it as a potential terrorist target, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Wednesday.
The Japanese Consulate General in Melbourne advised Japanese citizens living in Australia that the Victoria state government had issued a warning that infrastructure and United States and British facilities around the state could be possible targets for terrorist attacks, a spokesman told Kyodo News.
The same advisory was posted on the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Web site.
The Australian government has told the Japanese government that it has no detailed information of specific terrorist threats to Australia, said a spokeswoman from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“If such information does become available, the (Australian) government will take the necessary precautions including issuing travel warnings,” she said.
However, with Japan one of the country’s biggest tourism export markets, it was “not good news” for Australia, said Australian Tourism Commission Managing Director Ken Boundy.
“Naturally we are not comfortable with seeing those sorts of risk assessment,” he told the Financial Review newspaper.
Australia itself has issued a multitude of travel warnings about countries in Southeast Asia since the bombing of a disco on the Indonesian resort island of Bali last month killed more than 190 people, including 89 Australians.
Leaders at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cambodia last week issued a declaration criticizing Western governments for issuing a spate of warnings about travel in many parts of the region.
Australia would prefer that Japan lifts the travel advice, Tourism Minister Joe Hockey said.
“However, like Australia, the Japanese government has an obligation to act in the best interests of their citizens,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The Australian Tourism Commission in Japan is speaking to Japanese travel wholesalers and retailers to reassure them Australia is safe, he said.
“Australia is a safe and secure destination. There are of course certain risks, but there are risks right around the world,” the minister said. “There have been terrorist attacks previously in Japan, and certainly governments have an obligation to warn their citizens of potential risks when they travel.”
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