TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Sunday that about 430 Japanese nationals have been confirmed to be living or staying in Hubei province, with almost all of them in Wuhan, the epicentre of China's coronavirus outbreak.
Briefing reporters after he spoke on the telephone with his Chinese counterpart, Motegi said China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, told him that he understood Japan's concern and desire to repatriate its nationals as soon as possible.
"I told Mr Wang that if there is anything Japan could do to help prevent the spread of the disease, we are ready to offer our full support," he told reporters.
Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in central China, is in virtual lockdown following a deadly outbreak of a new coronavirus that emerged there at the end of last year. Public transport, including airplanes and trains, have been suspended.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier the government was working with Chinese authorities to make arrangements for all Japanese nationals wishing to return from Wuhan, including with charter flights. Motegi said no schedule had been set yet.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)
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