MARITIME | German shipping companies avoid Tokyo Bay ports on radiation fears

(Reuters) – German shipping companies are avoiding Tokyo Bay area ports due to radiation fears and Japan could face severe supply chain bottlenecks as vessels get diverted, ship industry officials said on Thursday.

Any logistical setbacks could mean major delays and seaborne congestion at Japan’s terminals including Tokyo, hindering recovery efforts in the wake of the March 11 earthquake.

“The last thing Japan needs right now is for people to abandon them,” said Tim Wickmann, chief executive of MCC Transport, a unit of Danish oil and shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk.

Among those that have stopped going to Tokyo for the time being are Hapag-Lloyd — the world’s fifth-biggest container shipper part-owned by tour operator TUI AG — and container ship operator Claus-Peter Offen.

The firms have also stopped calling at the port of Yokohama, which is part of the Tokyo Bay stretch of waterways.

“We don’t want to take any security risks,” a Hapag-Lloyd spokeswoman said on Thursday.

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