Easing of travel restrictions facilitates programs in Japan
The easing of U.S. State Department restrictions on travel to Japan will allow the university to move forward with spring and summer study abroad programs that had been in doubt.
The change, announced April 14 on the State Department’s website, replaces a warning against travel to Japan with an advisory that “strongly urges” U.S. citizens to remain outside the 50-mile radius around the Fukushima nuclear power reactors.
“That’s great news,” says John Godfrey, assistant dean for international studies in the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. “Given this relaxation, regular study abroad programs can go forward, according to university travel policy.”
Godfrey was busy Friday afternoon responding to inquiries about travel to Japan that has been sent to the university’s International Travel Oversight Committee. That group has been closely monitoring the situation in Japan since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami hit the northeast coastal area of the island nation.
While Godfrey was happy to tell faculty and students that their plans for travel to Japan could be approved, he was quick to spell out the necessary steps for them to register their travel plans with the university.
“Undergraduate student are required to register their complete travel and contact information and to have U-M travel insurance,” Godfrey explains.
All students, staff and faculty planning to travel abroad are urged to do the following:
• Register travel through Wolverine Access, providing complete contact information, including address, cell phone number and passport number.
• Purchase (through the U-M Travel Registry) a U-M travel health insurance policy through the university’s insurance partner, HTH Worldwide.
• Commit to regularly reading informational bulletins issued by HTH during all travel abroad.
• Complete the online registration with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Non-U.S. citizens should register with the in-country embassy of their home country.
According to the State Department, the assessment of technical and subject matter experts across U.S. government agencies is that “while the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains serious and dynamic, the health and safety risks to areas beyond the 50-mile evacuation zone … are low and do not pose significant risks to U.S. citizens. “
However, the travel advisory cautions that “U.S. citizens avoid travel within the 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. U.S. citizens who are still within this radius should evacuate or shelter in place.”