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Opinions of Friday, 25 March 2011

Columnist: Oppong-Kusi, Benard Kwame

Ghana Embassy abandoned Ghanaians in Earthquake/Tsunami devastated Japan

I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit north eastern Japan on Friday 11th March 2011. My thoughts are very much with the people in the affected areas at this time and also with the citizens of Fukushima Prefecture who are dealing with the ongoing situation at the nuclear power plant and Ghanaians living in Japan most importantly those in most affected areas.

I understand that because of the recent earthquake, nuclear issues and international media coverage (CNN March 23, 2011 “Embassies closing, moving south of Tokyo, Japan” ) some Embassies including Ghana Embassy are moving out of Tokyo. Ghana Embassy choose to moved to Korea without information Ghanaians living in Japan causing panic among Ghanaians in the Earthquake and Tsunami devastated country, adding salt to injuries.

A concern Ghanaian citizen living in Tokyo who wants a traveling document for his new born baby just in case there is mass evacuation of people from Tokyo found closed Embassy with a notice that would send chill to any Ghanaian's spine if not panic.(picture attached).

“It is announced for the information of Ghanaian nationals and the general public that in view of the current conditions prevailing in The Tokyo Metropolis, the Embassy will be temporarily closed from Tuesday, 22nd March, 2011 until further notice.”

The way the notice was pasted at the entrance of the Embassy speaks for itself. It is unprofessional, disgusting, a disgrace and an insult to Ghana and Ghanaians living in Japan. The notice looks like, “the world is coming to an end we have to get out of here” without informing fellow Ghanaians. The local staffs of the Embassy were left behind including some Ghanaian nationals and their family whom some have young children and have worked for the embassy for years.

What is prevailing in the Tokyo Metropolis (Why the Embassy failed to inform Ghanaians in Japan?) that warrants the closer of the embassy without any contact information in an emergency? There is a rumor going on that some Ghanaians are missing since the double disaster earthquake/tsunami two weeks ago and presumed dead. Where, when and how this information got around is unknown. I for example and all of my contacts in Japan have not been contacted by the Embassy in any means except undated notice on the Embassy's website that includes, dead information about the world cup, Obama's visit to Ghana and message from the Ambassador who have been recalled months ago. This shows how competent our embassy is in sending information around in this 20th century.

Ghanaians are very much concerned and some people think the Embassy have abandoned them and run away for their own safety leaving them and the local staffs behind. There are a number of questions Ghanaians like me are asking now. Where is the Embassy now? (Unconfirmed, run away to Korea) If true, why didn’t they inform us? Why, Korea is not southern Japan? Tokyo is 302 kilometers away from Sendai. The following are the approx. distance in kilometers from Sendai, the nearest city to the hard hit and most affected area to other cities in and around Japan. Osaka, Japan (388) Fukuoka Ghana consulate office, Japan (388) Okinawa, Japan (1802) Soul, South Korea runaway embassy location (1218) California, USA ( 8562)

I am not an expert but according to oncologist, the further you go the less you will be affected by radiation if there is leakage. Why did the Embassy moved to Korea not Fukuoka in Japan where we have a consulate office, or Okinawa (Japan) which is far away from the troubled nuclear plant in Fukushima than Korea, is not clear.

There is report that people of California are worried about radiation and monitoring the situation closely depending if there is life treating radiation leakage and the direction of the wind. If there is the possibility of radiation leakage that can reach the coast of America, then what are the Ghana Embassy officials doing in Korea? It’s like ostrich burying his head in the sand to hide from approaching fire,

Meanwhile some concern Ghanaians citizens are taking the power into their own hands to open an information office in Tokyo to help about 1900 (registered) Ghanaians in Japan. Would they be able to do that? Can they provide the information their follow Ghanaians need and would need in time of mass evacuation? What I know is we have to do something to help ourselves.

We urge any Ghanaian in Japan with information that can help fellow Ghanaians on the current crisis to share it on a facebook page created for Ghanaians in Japan . We also urge fellow Ghanaians in Japan to volunteer their time and resources in this time of need to help their brothers and sisters in the crisis hit areas. Some of the things that you can do are’ Publish List of Ghanaian Associations in Japan and their contact numbers, publish list of missing people. Share relevant information concerning the crisis that will be useful to Ghanaians in Japan. You can also contact these persons.




May God save our homeland Ghana, Ghanaians in Japan and please pray for us.

Benard Kwame Oppong-Kusi (Concerned Ghanaian in Japan)