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Americans advised not to travel to Japan for time being

March 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
With aftershocks still roiling Tokyo and other parts of Japan and radiation leaks plaguing a damaged nuclear plant, there are few people looking to travel to Japan and too many trying to get out.

The Japanese disaster has airlines scrambling. Some Chinese carriers have canceled flights to Japan; Lufthansa is diverting its Tokyo flights to other Japanese cities; and many travelers are backing out of planned trips there.

"Business travelers and leisure travelers are actually being urged not to go there. The State Department just came out with a warning two days ago urging Americans not to travel to Japan until at least April 1," said Johnny Jet, founder of JohnnyJet.com, a travel advice website.

Last year, 727,000 Americans visited Japan. This year, travel experts say that number will be down drastically.

Because of the dangerous situation in Japan, Jet says travelers having second thoughts about flying to the beleaguered country won't have to pay costly fees to cancel their flights.

"It's not going to cost them anything because they can re-book for free," he said. "So I would actually tell people not to go to Tokyo. Wait a couple weeks, find out what's going on."

The FAA is working with Japanese authorities to keep airliners away from the burning nuclear reactors. The government says it has changed many of the flight paths and all the U.S. carriers are adhering to the new restrictions.

Meanwhile, many Americans already in Japan are now returning to the United States after several days in the quake-stricken country.

Seven members of Tokyo Apache Dance Team, who have been performing at basketball games in Japan, landed at Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday morning. They're relieved to be out of Japan after several days of living in the earthquake zone.

"It was just really, really scary. And I just want to get back to normal, try to get over these earthquake feelings I still have in my body," said dancer Kim Loberg.

The dancers perform during Tokyo Apache basketball games, the Japanese professional basketball team. But in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami, the rest of the team's schedule was canceled.

The group said it has been an emotional four days filled with rolling blackouts, massive aftershocks and little sleep.

"We weren't really sleeping and waking up to shaking and stuff. And, you know, you just can't live like that," said dancer Destiny Bleu.

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