August 31, 2017
Mid-way through the 2017 Typhoon season and ahead of September National Preparedness Month in Japan, the U.S. Embassy would like to remind U.S. citizens living and traveling in Japan of the importance of staying connected and having access to the latest local emergency information. The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo encourages U.S. citizens to maintain personal readiness in the event of an emergency and to review local government emergency preparedness information. We would like to share the following suggestions that will help keep you and your loved ones informed and safe:
Crisis Information in Japan
In addition to the U.S. Embassy’s extensive list of emergency resources, you may see local alerts for events as diverse as heavy rain, excessive heat, landslides, and earthquakes. The Japanese government uses a “J-Alert” system that sends crisis information to the public through a variety of media, including television, loudspeakers, and cellphone and radio messages. The Japan Meteorological Agency, a primary source for many of the crisis alerts in Japan, has a webpage in English. If you cannot understand Japanese but are hearing or seeing these messages, pay attention and ask locals what it means – it may be very helpful!
Establish Your Personal Social Network
Many times, the best information comes from people in your local network; such as expatriate friends, acquaintances, and business contacts. This is especially important if you are unable to read and speak Japanese. If you are a tourist, your social network could be as simple as the front desk in your hotel or even the cashier at the local coffee shop!
Social Media Sources of Useful Information
Social Media platforms like Twitter and Facebook can be useful for timely updates. Visit the websites of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or the U.S. Consulate near you to learn how to sign up for our official feeds, and take advantage of the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program – STEP. See the end of this message for a list of the Consulates in Japan, their locations, and their contact information.
Japanese Government App Provides Safety Information in English
The Government of Japan’s National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has an Android and iPhone app called “Safety tips” that sends disasters alerts in multiple languages, including English. For more information, check out the JNTO website.
Your Smartphone – A Vital Life Line
If you have a smartphone with a contract to a local Japanese mobile provider, you may already be able to receive safety alerts as a text message. Check with your local provider, as this typically requires a unique email address associated with your mobile account. If you do have this capability through your provider, you may be able to also get this information in English.
Japan’s cellular network is very resilient and can be expected to remain in service with minimal interruptions even after a major earthquake. However, if cell service is not available, you can receive emergency information in English over local radio stations such as AFN (American Forces Network) or InterFM (English language news alerts). Some stations to monitor are:
- AFN Tokyo (810kHz, AM)
- AFN Iwakuni (1575kHz, AM)
- AFN Sasebo (1575kHz, AM)
- AFN Okinawa (89.1MHz, FM)
Personal Preparedness Starts at Home
Once a disaster happens, it’s too late to prepare. Get your “Go Bag” together and work with your family to come up with a plan to communicate and find each other in the case of a crisis. Don’t forget about your pets when making plans! For ideas on how to stock your “Go Bag” or emergency kit, visit FEMA’s website. Tourists should visit the Department of State’s Traveler’s Checklist for ideas on how to have a safe trip. Useful preparation resources are available at https://www.ready.gov/.
Disaster Prevention (Bousai) Information May Be Available from Your Local Government
Your local municipality may already have Disaster Prevention (“Bousai” or “Bosai” in Japanese) information ready for residents and visitors online. Prefectural, city, and even ward-office disaster prevention and preparedness information may be in English or have links to other useful resources. Below is a selected list of disaster prevention websites for major population centers in Japan. There may be many more resources available to you. Do a web search with the word “bousai” and the town or region you are interested in, and you may even find information in English!
Tokyo Metropolitan Area:
For further information:
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call 1-888-407-4747toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
U.S. Embassy Tokyo
American Citizen Services
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
After Hours: 03-3224-5000
The U.S. Embassy serves Americans in Tokyo, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata and Yamanashi.
11-5, Nishitenma 2-chome, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543
Serving Americans in Osaka, Aichi, Ehime, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kagawa, Kochi, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Shimane, Shiga, Tokushima, Tottori, Toyama, and Wakayama prefectures.
Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor
1-47-1 Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001
Tel (052) 581-4501
Fax: (052) 581-3190
Providing emergency consular services only (including death and arrest cases) for Americans living in Aichi, Gifu, and Mie prefectures.
5-26, Ohori 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052
Serving Americans in Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga and Yamaguchi prefectures.
Kita 1-jo, Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821
Serving Americans in Akita, Aomori, Hokkaido, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.
2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe City, Okinawa 901-2104
Serving Americans in Okinawa and the Amami Oshima Island group
Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).