The 171 Emergency Line is a voice message board service provided by NTT that is available when a disaster such as an earthquake or volcanic eruption occurs. If regular phone service is interrupted in the disaster-stricken area, this service can help keep in touch with family members and friends.
To utilize the service, U.S. citizens can simply dial 171 and then follow the instructions to record or listen to messages. To record a voice message, users dial 171, then 1 followed by their phone number. Concerned family and friends in Japan can hear the message by dialing 171, followed by 2 and the phone number. For detailed information on using the voice system, please see this link. Unfortunately, while detailed instructions in English exist on the website, the actual voice prompts are in Japanese only. Please note that the site lists days during which the public can practice using the service.
The voice-based messaging service is currently limited to domestic contacts. However, U.S. citizens can leave messages for family members overseas using NTT’s Web 171 service. To post an Internet message, users need to go to the Web 171 site and enter their message and phone number. Messages can be viewed by typing in the phone number on the site. The site is currently closed, but will be opened in the event of an emergency. Web 171 also is in Japanese only. NTT has stated that it has no plans to offer this service in English. U.S. citizens interested in using either service, particularly those individuals with a limited knowledge of Japanese language, are thus strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the detailed English instructions on NTT’s website. Printing these and keeping them close to the family’s emergency kit may also be a good idea.