What To Do In An Emergency In Japan

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Is Japan one of your must-see destinations? Have you been looking up various Japanese tourist sites and attractions and creating different itineraries to prepare for when that day finally comes? Is your excitement through the roof as the time to get your dream of exploring Japan is getting nearer? Do you want everything to go smoothly throughout your Japan trip?

Even though you have carefully planned your Japan trip itinerary to the minute, you never know when an illness, injury, accident, or disaster may strike. For this reason, it is essential that you are familiar with the things that you need to have and do in case of emergencies in Japan.

Important travel documents you should have

Let us start by making sure that you have the necessary travel documents with you before you fly to Japan:

  • Passport – You have to have a passport to be able to exit your country and enter Japan. You also need it as a form of official identification while in another country. Months before your flight to Japan, make sure that your passport is valid throughout your Japan trip. If it expires soon, renew your passport.
  • Visa – You have to check if you need a Japan tourist visa in order to enter Japan. Some nationalities are required to have it, while others do not and can stay in Japan for up to 90 days. You should get in touch with your local Japan embassy or consulate to determine whether you need a visa or not, how many consecutive days you can stay in Japan, and so on.
  • Plane tickets – You should have e-copies and paper copies of your plane tickets. The immigration official or the airline company may ask to see them before you can depart your home country or enter Japan.
  • Hotel reservations – You should also have e-copies and paper copies of your hotel, hostel, guesthouse, or other lodging reservations. You need to provide the address and contact number of your accommodation on the landing card to be presented to immigration. Give your family or friends back home copies too so that they can reach you in case something happens.

All of these travel documents can help ensure that you arrive to Japan safe and sound. Also, they are quite useful if you need to ask for assistance from your country’s embassy in Japan, if people have to track you down in case you go missing in action for longer than you should be, and other circumstances.

In case you get sick or ill in Japan

When packing for your Japan trip, it is best that you take some medications for your allergies, headaches, colds, and other common illnesses. However, make sure that what you are taking with you are not considered illegal in Japan.

Certain over-the-counter medicines — such as some inhalers and sinus and allergy medications — that are widely used in your home country are illegal in Japan, specifically those that contain stimulants. Some prescription medications, such as Adderall, are also prohibited. Visit Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s official website to read the complete guidelines on bringing medicines for personal use in Japan.

If you need a doctor or medical services but you have zero Japanese language skills, there are several tourist-friendly clinics and hospitals across the country. You can use http://www.japanhospitalsearch.org/ to find the nearest facility.

To get the fire department or an ambulance

If there is a fire at your hotel or if one of the people in your travel group suddenly faints or gets injured and requires immediate medical care, the number to dial is 119. If you can speak even just a little bit of Japanese, try to explain the situation to the operator slowly but clearly. A fire engine or ambulance should be sent your way as soon as possible.

However, if you do not speak Japanese, try to find a Japanese speaker around you and let them do the talking. You can also call Japan Helpline to avail of 24/7 English-language support. Just dial 0120 461 997 to talk to an English-language operator who can assist you.

In case of loss or theft

If you lost your luggage or phone, or if someone stole your laptop at the hotel or pickpocketed you while in a packed subway car, you should call 110 or go to the nearest police station and create and submit a “Report of Lost or Stolen Property.”

At airports, train stations, and other major tourist areas, there should at least be a “koban” or small police boxes where you can make your report. You should also check the lost and found counters to inquire.

In cases of lost or stolen credit cards, it is best to call your credit card company to cancel your card and prevent fraudulent charges.

To get in touch with the police

If you got into a road accident, want to report a crime, got robbed, or other emergencies that need police assistance, dial 110. If you do not speak Japanese, call Japan Helpline at 0120 461 997 to avail of English-language support.

Do your best to remain calm until the police arrive to the scene, and you must be ready to provide all details and information regarding the situation accurately, such as the time of the accident or crime and the events leading to the incident. Also, depending on the situation, you may be requested to go to the police station for further discussions.

In the event of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters

Hurricanes – Check the Japan weather forecast prior to your trip so that you can make the necessary adjustments. You should consider canceling or rescheduling your trip or revamp your itinerary in case a hurricane is expected to hit while you are there.

Earthquakes – Japan gets earthquakes several times a year. If you experience one while there, you should not panic to not endanger yourself and others. You should look for a safe and secure area to stay in until the shakings pass, and evacuate to the designated evacuation areas if necessary.

Tsunami – Powerful earthquakes, like those that are magnitude 5 or above, tend to cause large tsunami. If you are in a coastal area, you should evacuate to higher ground immediately. Avoid going inside old buildings and structures, as the tremors and aftershocks can continue even several days after an earthquake and still cause damage.

Check the Japan Meteorological Agency website for the latest and up-to-date information on weather, earthquake, tsunami, landslide, cyclone, and volcanic eruption warnings and advisories,


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