Japanese companies order staff to cancel trips to Brussels

Tokyo, March 23 (IANS) A number of Japanese bellwether companies on Wednesday issued instructions to their employees asking them to avoid making business trips to Brussels and other European cities, in the wake of the deadly terror attacks.

Among the companies to issue the travel bans were top automaker Toyota Motor Corp., who while confirming the safety of all its European employees, issued a mandate instructing its staff to avoid major European transport hubs, such as airports and train stations, until the situation in Brussels has been confirmed safe and the terror alert levels lowered, Xinhua reported.

The Aichi prefecture-based automaker told its global employees with specific plans already booked to visit Belgium on business to scrap their plans indefinitely.

Fellow automaker Honda issued similar instructions to its employees, as did major tyre maker Bridgestone Corp.

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., known worldwide for aerospace and ground transportation-related manufacturing, as well as for production of the Subaru brand of automobiles, instructed its Japan-based staff to cancel trips to Belgium and advised the cancellation of visits to other European cities.

Among Japan’s megabanks, top lender Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ told its staff to drop any Belgium-bound trips specifically, as well as those to other European cities, as did Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

Spokespeople for some of the companies on Wednesday were quoted by local media as not ruling out the possibility of taking evasive action to safeguard personnel and business activities, if production were to be adversely affected, or business engagements and “flow of people” affected in the market.

On the political front, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conveyed both horror at the events in Brussels as well as indignation at so many innocent civilians being murdered in the attacks.

He said all acts of terrorism would never be tolerated and that Japan would steadfastly work alongside the international community to counter the increasing scourge of militant groups such as the so-called Islamic State, who claimed responsibility for the attacks in Brussels.

Expressing his condolences to the families and friends of the victims, he said Japan stood in solidarity with Belgium and the European Union in these turbulent times.

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