Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Tips for a Safe Night Out in Tokyo

December 28, 2016

As peak travel season approaches, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is offering the following security tips to help visitors stay safe while enjoying Tokyo’s world-famous nightlife. The general crime rate in Japan is well below the U.S. national average, and Tokyo, like all of Japan, is generally a safe place for visitors. Still, as in other big cities around the world, visitors to Tokyo sometimes become victims of crime, and it is important to exercise caution. While violent crime is rare, it does exist.

Some of Tokyo’s entertainment and nightlife districts – in particular, the Roppongi and Kabuki-cho areas – have a higher level of crime compared to other parts of the city. The Embassy recommends that you use caution in all entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan. Complaints of robberies committed after a victim has been drugged from a spiked drink are increasing. The Embassy also receives reports of credit card fraud, extortion, and even assault in these districts. Every year hundreds of thousands of tourists have safe and enjoyable visits to Tokyo.

To help make sure you are one of them, follow these simple tips:

  • If you are going out to bars or nightclubs, consider leaving your credit and debit cards in the hotel safe. Criminals focus on people who are paying with cards. Carry cash securely, and take only as much cash as you are planning to spend.
  • Do not go clubbing alone! Take a friend, and stay together.
  • Do not tell strangers about your travel plans! Criminals target visitors who are departing Japan within 24-72 hours, since they are less likely to report the crime to police.
  • Never enter a bar or club that employs a street hawker to draw in customers! Some establishments, especially in entertainment areas that cater to foreign clientele, put touts on the street to drum up business. These touts can be very aggressive, and many incidents reported to the Embassy have taken place in establishments that use them. If you meet one, it’s best to move on.
  • Do not accept an invitation for a free drink! In many incidents reported to the Embassy, touts have used offers of free drinks as an enticement.
  • Keep an eye on your drink! Drink spiking at bars and entertainment venues has led to credit card fraud, robbery and even physical and sexual assaults. Remain vigilant even if you are in a seemingly safe bar.
  • Know when to say when! Criminals single out intoxicated persons as easy victims.
  • Obey the law! Remember that possession or use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, are serious crimes in Japan. Convictions for drug offenses result in lengthy sentences.
If you believe you have been a victim of a crime, contact the police right away. In cases of credit card fraud you must file a police report at the nearest police station before you leave Japan. The Japanese police do not provide you a copy of the police report, but they issue a report number. You can provide this report number to your credit card company in order to confirm the incident with the police. The Japanese police cannot accept reports filed from overseas.

For further information about security in Japan:

Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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