Firms pull out staff and close Tokyo offices

FIRMS began pulling employees out of Tokyo amid fears of spreading nuclear contamination yesterday.

Banks, legal firms and manufacturers closed Tokyo offices, offered to evacuate staff to unaffected parts of Japan and sent expatriates to Hong Kong and Singapore after explosions and fires at a Fukushima Daiichi reactor yesterday sent a cloud of radioactive material towards Tokyo.

Investment bank West LB said it was evacuating all staff yesterday, while Commerzbank and auto manufacturer BMW offered to move staff to safer locations in the south.

Several law firms closed their Tokyo offices. Insurer Chartis said its offices would be open in business hours but staff may not be able to get to the office “given planned power outages, reduced commuting options, as well as limited supplies of food.”

But Japan’s International Bankers Association listed 16 banks including Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse in Japan that were “continuing to operate ‘business as usual’.”

“Despite rumours to the contrary, none of the undersigned firms has announced any business closures or evacuation of staff,” it said.