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

As peak travel season approaches, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is offering the following 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 very safe place for visitors. Still, as in other big cities around the world, visitors to Tokyo sometimes become victims of crime, so it’s important to exercise caution. Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan often involve theft or fraud. While violent crime is rare, it does exist.

Complaints of robberies committed after a victim has been drugged from a spiked drink are increasing. Some of Tokyo’s entertainment and nightlife districts – in particular, the Roppongi and Kabuki-cho areas – are considered high-risk areas for crime, and the Embassy receives reports of drink spiking, credit card fraud, extortion, and even assault in these districts. Use caution in all entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan.

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 enjoy Tokyo’s bars or nightclubs, consider leaving your credit and debit cards in the hotel safe! Take cash, and only as much cash as you are willing to spend.
  • Don’t go clubbing alone! Take a friend, and stay together.
  • Never enter a bar or club that employs a street hawker to draw in customers! Some establishments, especially in high-risk 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 take place in establishments that use them. If you meet one, it’s best to move on.
  • Don’t 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, especially in areas such as Roppongi and Kabuki-cho, near Shinjuku, has led to credit card fraud, robbery and even physical and sexual assaults.
  • 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.
  • Know before you go! Be sure to read the Department of State’s Country Specific Information sheet for Japan for more information on safety and security.

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.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo strongly recommends that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Japan enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Japan. For additional information, refer to the “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please contact the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit of either the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or one of the U.S. Consulates in Japan.