NAGOYA (Kyodo) Japanese tours and exchange visits to New Zealand are being canceled in the wake of the Feb. 22 earthquake in Christchurch that killed at least 165 people.
With the peak tourism season approaching, officials of the New Zealand Tourism Board stress that other areas of the country, where tourism accounts for 1 in 10 jobs, are safe.
Major Japanese travel agencies, however, have been canceling tours with itineraries that include Christchurch.
In Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, which has sister city links with Christchurch, a group that supports people with disabilities has canceled a plan to send representatives over for the cities’ annual reciprocal visits under the Disabled Persons Exchange program.
Tachibana Gakuen Junior High School in Yokohama has canceled a study tour for second-graders, and the town office of Imakane, Hokkaido, said it is uncertain whether it can send 20 junior high school students to Christchurch as planned in August.
But Toin Gakuen, another school in Yokohama, said its annual study tour to Wellington in March will not be affected, although parents of some students have expressed worries about the visit.
Japan team to exit
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (Kyodo) Japan’s disaster relief team will wrap up rescue operations in quake-hit New Zealand and leave Tuesday, local authorities said.
Relief teams from Australia, China, the United States and other countries also plan to leave New Zealand by Tuesday.
After arriving in Christchurch on Feb. 24, two days after the magnitude-6.3 earthquake, Japan’s first relief team worked with other rescuers at the collapsed CTV building, where students from Japan and other countries were trapped and are feared dead.
The official death toll from the quake reached 165 on Saturday. None of the 28 Japanese who are missing were among the bodies identified so far.
Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara told a news conference in Tokyo on Friday that Japan has provided fingerprint, DNA and other information on the 28 to the New Zealand authorities.
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