As Czech, French, and US planes flew into Japan today to evacuate nationals, Canada sent buses to take Canadians away from radiation-threatened areas in northeastern Japan. But Canada has stopped short of evacuating people from Japan altogether.

A Canada Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said Thursday that the department is contacting Canadians in the hard-hit areas to advise them to leave on the buses, and that a number of Canadians have already evacuated on buses chartered by other countries.

Canada is advising any citizens still within 80 kilometres of the badly damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima to leave the area as the threat of a catastrophic meltdown looms. This is a much larger scale than the 30 kilometre zone advised by Japanese officials.  

Meanwhile, high radiation hindered cooling efforts near the damaged nuclear power plant. Japanese officials said military fire trucks began spraying cooling water on spent fuel rods after earlier efforts to cool the rods failed.

The French and Czech government have evacuated citzens on special flights from Japan, according to an AP report. Britain is planning to do the same, while the first US evacuation plane left Tokyo for Taipei on Thursday. 

According to a CTV report, there are about 200 registered Canadians in the area near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

So far, however, there is no plan to fly Canadians out of Japan. Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters, “If people want to leave, they have that option,” in Surrey on Tuesday. Claude Rochon, a Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said “government-assisted evacuation is an option of last resort... Canadians wishing to leave Japan can do so by commercial means.”