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September 24, 2017

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MOFA maintains Fukushima travel alert

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan still maintains the highest-level travel alert for Japan's Fukushima Prefecture, meaning that any travel to the potentially radiation-affected area should be avoided, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

Three years after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster took place on March 11, 2011, MOFA has still not lifted the red travel alert for the whole of Fukushima Prefecture, especially the area within 30 kilometers of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, a MOFA official told local media yesterday.

Under MOFA's color coded travel advisory system, a red alert is the highest level of warning. MOFA urged Taiwanese travelers not to visit the area for the time being due to safety concerns, the official said.

The official made the comments in response to reporters' questions on a possible visit by first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) to the prefecture during her trip to Japan next month.

Local media reported earlier this week that MOFA is arranging for Chow to visit Japan to attend an exhibition of treasured Chinese artifacts belonging to Taiwan's National Palace Museum next month.

A ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, disclosed that a possible trip by Chow to Fukushima is being arranged but no final decision has yet been made, reports said.

Meanwhile, local media reported yesterday that a group of Taiwanese students visited the prefecture earlier this year.

Lee Shu-lin (李述藺), head of National Feng Yuan Commercial High School (國立豐原高級商業職業學校) in the central city of Taichung, told the Central News Agency that he led a group of 72 students when visiting the prefecture this February.

The group was warmly welcomed by members of the local tourism association in the prefecture during their stay.

They, however, did not travel within the 30-kilometer radius around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which is a restricted area, Lee said.

He believes that the visit did not pose any threat to students' health and all who participated in the tour had been told of the visit and agreed to its conditions, he added.

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