BMW, VW evacuate staff from Japan as nuclear crisis continues
FRANKFURT -- Staff at BMW AG and Volkswagen AG are among many European nationals leaving Japan as the government battles to cool nuclear reactors damaged by last week's record earthquake.
As Prime Minister Naoto Kan called for calm in the wake of Japan's worst disaster since World War II, expatriates and their employers were left trying to assess whether efforts to prevent a nuclear spill would be successful.
Volkswagen, which employs 600 sales and technical staff in the country, repatriated 30 of its around 40 German staff on Wednesday, a VW spokesman told Automotive News Europe by telephone.
On Saturday, BMW, which employs over 750 people in Japan, gave its German staff the chance to leave the country and around 50 staff returned to Germany, a spokesman told ANE.
France has already begun evacuating its nationals, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said, while Germany has also advised citizens to leave Japan.
About 100 Germans live in the Tohoku area, where a magnitude 9 quake struck Japan on March 11, while 2,600 are in Tokyo and 900 in the Kanagawa area, Mari Shindo, a spokeswoman at the embassy, said in an interview.
Unlike France and Germany, the U.S. hasn't recommended its citizens leave Japan. John Roos, U.S., ambassador to Japan, said today that countries must make their own decisions and the U.S. will do so based on the safety of Americans.
Bloomberg contributed to this report
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