Study, travel agencies unaffected by London attack


Travel and study abroad agencies in Japan are staying vigilant in the wake of Sunday’s attacks on pedestrians and revelers in central London, England’s third deadly terrorist incident in three months.

Though no Japanese were reportedly injured in the attack, Kyoko Ishizawa, a spokeswoman for Ryugaku Journal Inc., which advises students on studying abroad, said it will explain the situation to those who plan to go to the British capital and in some cases recommend they choose provincial cities or other countries less likely to be targeted by terrorists.

“We are closely monitoring the warnings for terrorism issued by embassies and the Foreign Ministry and share the information with our customers for the sake of their security,” she said Monday. “We will also closely communicate with local schools and try to figure out the situation when an incident like this happens.”

Britain had 64,968 Japanese residents as of October 2016, the sixth-largest figure after the United States, China, Australia, Thailand and Canada, according to Foreign Ministry statistics. The number is down 4.5 percent from the previous year.

Chisato Tateyama, a 37-year-old church worker living in London, told The Japan Times she was “utterly shocked” by the attack, which she learned from her husband, who saw it on the internet at home.

“We just experienced the attack in Manchester and knew that a charity concert was being organized over the weekend,” Tateyama, who has lived in Britain for 15 years, including six in the Manchester area. “I had feared that the Manchester incident and the charity show could trigger another attack. It ended up becoming a reality.”

After a suicide bombing in Manchester last month, Ryugaku Journal received an inquiry from an alarmed Osaka mother whose high school son planned to attend a language school in Wimbledon from August. But she has not called back to cancel her son’s plans, Ishizawa said.

Chika Takahashi, education chief at the British Council in Japan, said via email that the organization has not received any worried inquiries from people studying or planning to study in Britain since the London Bridge attack.

Travel agency JTB Corp. said it was unlikely to cancel tours unless the Foreign Ministry raised its four-tiered warning scale to level two, which urges people to refrain from unnecessary travel. Right now, the warning scale isn’t even active, signaling safety.

The ministry had not urged people to cancel travel to Britain as of Monday, although it called on travelers the previous day to be vigilant when visiting popular tourist spots, concert halls or other crowded places, as well as when using public transport.

The JTB spokeswoman said it has not received any reports of injuries from clients in connection with the attacks.

Nippon Travel Agency Co. also said it has no plans to cancel tours, spokeswoman Miho Kuwana said. The company is communicating closely with staffers in Britain but there have been no reports of injuries or requests to return to Japan, Kuwana said.

“We don’t know how the incident will affect our business, as only a few days have passed since the attack,” she said. “But so far it hasn’t led to any major cancellations of our scheduled tours.”

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