The danger of radiation sent foreign bankers looking for physical safe havens on Wednesday, as worries continued over the potential for nuclear meltdown at Japan’s earthquake-damaged reactors. Prices for evacuation flights had risen by as much as 25%.
According to Reuters, foreign bankers from such institutions as BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), Standard Chartered (STAN.L) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) have left either Tokyo or Japan itself on commercial and charter flights as ongoing problems at Fukushima Daiichi continued to release elevated levels of radiation that have been detected in Tokyo. Workers at Fukushhima Daiichi were briefly evacuated because of heightened radiation levels, then allowed to return, but efforts to cool the reactors by water dropped from helicopters were canceled, also due to high radiation levels.
France has, according to The Guardian, characterized the situation at Fukushima as just short of Level 7 (Chernobyl was Level 7) in severity, and urged French nationals to leave Japan or at least relocate to the southern portion of the country, but Japan itself has given no such orders. Such a move may provide only relative safety, however, as not only the region around Fukushima continues to be hit with aftershocks, but a 6.0 magnitude quake hit eastern Japan on Wednesday that could be felt in Tokyo.
While the Tokyo-based International Bankers Association (IBA) said in a Tuesday statement that none of its 16 member banks had closed or given orders for staff to evacuate, private jet operators were cashing in on the exodus. Jackie Wu, COO of Hong Kong Jet, a new private jet subsidiary of China's HNA Group, said in the