While continuing to offer aid to Japan, many countries are also evacuating their citizens from the worst-hit areas of the country amid aftershocks and fears of nuclear leaks after Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
The National Police Agency said that last week's devastation had so far left 5,692 people dead and 9,506 others unaccounted by 8 p.m. (1100 GMT) Thursday.
Meanwhile, military helicopters were dumping tons of water upon the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant Thursday morning in an attempt to avert a possible nuclear meltdown.
China on Thursday continued to withdraw its nationals from the worst ravaged areas in Japan.
"The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese embassy and consulates in Japan are making every effort to evacuate Chinese citizens from hard-hit areas after the earthquake," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said at a regular press briefing.
"Relevant information will be released and updated in time on the website of the Chinese embassy in Tokyo," she said.
The embassy and consulates are working to withdraw Chinese citizens in an orderly way, the spokesperson said.
Airlines are also revising schedules and increasing flight frequencies to meet evacuation needs, she added.
The United States on Thursday authorized the first evacuations of Americans out of Japan and warned U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to any part of the country.
The travel warning extends to U.S. citizens already in Japan and urges them to consider leaving. The authorized departure offers voluntary evacuation to family members and dependents of U.S. personnel in Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya and affects some 600 people.
Senior State Department official Patrick Kennedy said chartered planes will be brought in to help private American citizens wishing to leave.
People face less risk in southern Japan, but changing weather and wind conditions could raise radiation levels elsewhere in the coming days, he said.
Singapore's Foreign Ministry on Thursday recommended that Singaporeans currently in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures evacuate immediately.
Singaporeans in prefectures neighboring Fukushima, such as Yamagata and Niigata, as well as in the Kanto region, including Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi, should consider leaving if they have no pressing reasons to stay, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It also continued to advise against all non-essential travel to Japan.
The ministry said the Singapore Embassy in Tokyo has made arrangements for Singaporeans within 80 to 100 km of the nuclear power plant to leave for safer locations on Thursday.
The Singapore Embassy in Tokyo has been assisting Singaporeans who wished to leave Japan with travel arrangements, immigration or visa-related issues, and in some urgent cases, helped arrange local transportation. It is also working closely with Singapore Airlines to ensure that there is sufficient capacity for Singaporeans wishing to return to Singapore, including the possibility of extra flights.
Indonesia is continuing efforts to find the whereabouts of its 139 citizens after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Thursday.
"The figure of missing citizen in Japan disasters has been decreasing. As of now we learned that the whereabouts of 139 Indonesians were yet to be confirmed," he said.
He said that another group consisting of 19 Indonesian evacuees landed in Indonesia from Tokyo this afternoon.
Marty said that efforts to evacuate Indonesians staying in Japan are underway at the moment by transporting them out from places considered fragile and dangerous, including the outskirts of Fukushima.
"To assure the safety of our citizens, we would evacuate our citizens at least 50 km away from Fukushima, or farther than the evacuation radius set by local authority," he said, adding that most of Indonesian evacuees are now approaching Tokyo.
The Algerian government has decided to send a special plane to Japan to transport its nationals home, the state-owned radio channel reported Thursday.
A follow-up unit established by the foreign ministry after the earthquake in Japan is in charge of the repatriation operation, in coordination with other concerned national institutions.
Thailand is going to send three C-130 military transport aircraft to deliver supplies and evacuate stranded Thais in Japan on Thursday and Friday.
Gp.Capt. Niwat Intarawichien of the Royal Thai Air Force Medical Services said that the first two aircraft would depart at about 10 p.m. Thursday local time (1500 GMT) and carry supplies, including blankets, canned food, and rice, to Tokyo.
After unloading supplies at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, the two C-130s will head to Yokota U.S. airbase to evacuate trapped Thais. The aircraft are scheduled to return on Saturday with some evacuated Thais.
The Russian government on Wednesday decided to evacuate the families of its diplomatic personnel in Japan in the nearest future.
"Due to the latest developments in Japan, it has been decided that tentatively on March 18 the families of the Russian missions staff in Japan, including the embassy in Tokyo, consulates generals, the trade mission and some others will temporarily leave the country," said a statement posted on the foreign ministry's website.
However, Russia has not yet planned to evacuate the personnel of Russian diplomatic missions or other Russian government institutions from Japan, according to the statement.
(Xinhua News Agency March 17, 2011)