Japan travel is safe: UN tourism body

MADRID - THERE is no reason to avoid travel to and from Japan as radiation levels at the country's airports and ports are 'well within safe limits', the UN World Tourism Organisation said on Friday.

Emergency crews have struggled to prevent a catastrophic meltdown at the Fukushima plant in north-eastern Japan since a massive earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, leading many foreign governments to urge their citizens to stay away from the country.

Just 352,800 foreigners arrived in Japan in March, 50.3 percent fewer than the same month in 2010 and the largest decline ever recorded, according to the Japan National Tourism Board.

But the Madrid-based UN World Tourism Organisation said the 'current situation poses no risk to travel to and from Japan'. 'Radiation monitoring around airports and seaports in Japan continues to confirm that levels remain well within safe limits from a health perspective,' it said in a statement.

'In addition, monitoring of passengers, crew and cargo from Japan carried out to date in other countries, in accordance with their national policy, does not suggest any health or safety risk.'

A total 8.6 million people travelled to Japan last year, marking a healthy rebound from the 6.8 million in 2009 when the swine flu pandemic and global economic downturn curbed international travel. The March 11 disaster was the worst to hit Japan since World War II, and is now known to have killed 13,456 people, with another 14,851 still missing.