About 50 Japanese tourists forced to stay
The Japanese consul to the CNMI found it “strange” that the Commonwealth Ports Authority only worked with Korean tourists stranded on Saipan and never got around to reaching out to the Japanese consulate on Saipan about its stranded nationals
In an interview with Saipan Tribune Wednesday last week, Japanese Consul to the CNMI Kinji Shinoda pointed out that CPA was able to coordinate with the Korean Consulate General in Guam about Korean tourists stranded in the CNMI, while his efforts to contact CPA executive director Chris Tenorio and CPA deputy director Edward Mendiola for information went unanswered. He said he tried calling through the CPA office and was promised that Tenorio would call him back, but that did not happen.
In a phone call with Saipan Tribune yesterday, Tenorio noted that he received no such call but noted that it was probably due to a telecommunications issue that continues to persist up to today as a result of Yutu. As for the consul’s request for a return call, Tenorio said he “never got the message.”
Saipan Tribune reported Tuesday last week that Korean Consul General Lim Hee Soon, in coordination with CPA, was able to pick up stranded passengers on several C-130 South Korean military aircraft.
“I have no intention to criticize [the CNMI government],” Shinoda said but he pointed out that his duty to Japanese citizens in the CNMI includes obtaining and relaying critical information in cases of calamities.
“This is a critical matter for tourists who stay here. We should provide [this information] to Japanese tourists in this critical situation,” he added.
According to Shinoda, he has been relying on the Emergency Operations Center email updates, but those do not include specific answers on when outbound flights would resume.
Tenorio said that inbound commercial flights would resume on Nov. 15, 2018, and that the airport terminal was shut down the day after Yutu hit Saipan.
According to Shinoda, about 50 Japanese tourists were forced to extend their stay in the CNMI due to Super Typhoon Yutu. He did not disclose whether they were able to leave the island as of publication.
Shinoda said he was asked by tourists over the phone for information, but was only able to share information disseminated by media outlets.
Shinoda said he wishes to work with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres on creating a point of contact for information regarding the welfare of tourists that are trapped in the CNMI in times of calamities.
Shinoda said that, as of October 2017, there are 708 Japanese residents on Saipan, 14 on Tinian, and nine on Rota.