Several large Nordic companies, including Ikea and H&M, on March 16 offered to help their Japanese employees leave Tokyo and surrounding areas and relocate further south due to growing fears of radiation from a quake-hit nuclear plant.
"We have offered our colleagues in the Tokyo region who are afraid of staying to handle their relocation to the south," said Charlotte Lindgren, a spokeswoman at Swedish furniture giant Ikea.
Ikea employs around 2,000 people in Japan, and Lindgren said the company had offered to help the some 1,200 employees and their families who live in the area in question to go 190 miles south of Tokyo to the Kansai region.
The company's around 90 foreign workers were being offered help to leave the country, she added.
Swedish fashion giant H&M, which employs around 900 people in Japan, also said it had offered its Tokyo and Yokohama-based employees help to relocate to a safer area, after having decided to shutter nine stores in the two cities.
Nearly 200 employees of the Swedish industrial equipment group Atlas Copco has also received an offer to leave Tokyo to go to Osaka and Nagoya, a spokesman said.
Airlines Finnair and SAS also said they were taking measures to protect their staff and had halted layovers in Tokyo.
Japan's nuclear crisis deepened on March 16 with another fire at the Fukushima quake-hit atomic power plant, and frightened Tokyo residents filled outbound trains and rushed to shops to stock up on face masks and emergency supplies, amid fears of radiation headed their way.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011
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