As fears mount surrounding Japan’s nuclear crisis following Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake, many like the Lees are leaving the country. As a place to flee to, Hong Kong offers advantages: It’s nearby, it allows most visitors to stay visa-free for from seven to 180 days, depending on citizenship (90 days for Japanese), and, perhaps most important, it faces little threat of radiation from Japan, according to Hong Kong government officials.
The Hong Kong government does not have a count of how many people have arrived from Japan since Friday, when the earthquake hit. But Cathay Pacific reduced the price of one-way flights from Japan until March 20, to help those without confirmed bookings leave the country. A spokeswoman said its four scheduled flights Monday from Tokyo were near capacity, carrying a total of 1,014 passengers.
A search on the Japan Airlines site Tuesday evening showed the earliest available flights to Hong Kong from Tokyo were on Thursday—with three seats left on two flights.
The Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre said no Japanese nationals have sought assistance from the organization. The Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong government both said they do not have programs bringing people to Hong Kong from Japan, nor are they assisting those who have already arrived.