With the threat of nuclear catastrophe a possibility, Americans in Japan should consider leaving the country and those considering traveling to Japan should defer their plans, the State Department said in a news release early Thursday morning.
The State Department is working to help U.S. citizens in the areas affected by the deteriorating conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan depart the country, according to the release. It is not clear just how the evacuations will be carried out.
In a situation that remains fluid, this marks a widening divergence between the Japanese government's recommendations for its citizens and the United States' recommendations for Americans.
On Wednesday, the White House reiterated the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's recommendation that Americans stay beyond an 80-kilometer radius of the plant, while the Japanese government's recommendation called for residents to evacuate beyond 20 kilometers and to stay indoors at 30 kilometers.
White House press secretary Jay Carney did not explain the difference in policies in a news conference on Wednesday.
“I will not from here judge the Japanese evaluation of the data,” Carney said.
In addition to the recommendations for civilians, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure of family members and dependents of U.S. government officials wishing to leave Northeast Japan.
It appears as if military personnel will remain in the Japan.
"U.S. forces remain in Japan and the U.S. has full capability to fulfill our alliance commitments to defend Japan and maintain peace and security in the region," wrote Marine Col. Dave Lapan in an e-mailed news release.