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Travel Security Advice for Japan

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japan_mapJapan_Overview_1


 

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Japan is a stable, highly developed parliamentary democracy with a modern economy.  Tourist facilities are widely available.  Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Japan for additional information.


REGISTRATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Japan are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State travel registration page , in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.  In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare or whereabouts may not be released to inquirers without your expressed written authorization.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

A valid passport and an onward/return ticket are required for tourist/business "visa free" stays of up to 90 days.  Passports must be valid for the intended period of stay in Japan.   Americans cannot work on a 90-day "visa free" entry.  As a general rule, "visa free" entry status may not be changed to another visa status without departing and then re-entering Japan with the appropriate visa such as a spouse, work or study visa.

For more information about the Japanese visa waiver program for tourists, Japan's rules on work visas, special visas for taking depositions, and other visa issues, travelers should consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Japan at 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC  20008, tel. (202) 238-6800, or the nearest Japanese consulate: visit the Japanese Embassy’s website for location details.  The U.S. Embassy and consulates in Japan cannot assist in obtaining visas for Japan.

All foreign nationals entering Japan, with the exception of certain categories listed below, are required to provide fingerprint scans and be photographed at the port of entry.  This requirement does not replace any existing visa or passport requirements.  Foreign nationals exempt from this requirement include special permanent residents, persons under 16 years of age, holders of diplomatic or official visas, and persons invited by the head of a national administrative organization.  U.S. travelers on official business must have a diplomatic or official visa specifying the nature of travel as "As Diplomat," "As Official," or "In Transit" to be exempt from biometric collection.  All other visa holders, including those with diplomatic and official visas stating "As Temporary Visitor," are subject to this requirement.  SOFA personnel are exempt from biometrics entry requirements under SOFA Article IX.2.

U.S. citizens entering or transiting Japan should ensure that their passports and visas are up to date before leaving the United States.  Occasionally airlines mistakenly board U.S. citizens coming to Japan, even though their passports have already expired.  The U.S. Embassy and consulates cannot "vouch for" a U.S. citizen without a valid passport, and passport services are not available at the airport.  In some prior instances, travelers have been returned immediately to the U.S., while in other cases, they have been issued 24-hour "shore passes" and were required to return the next day to Japanese Immigration for lengthy processing.

Many Asian countries require that travelers hold passports valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of entry into the country.   Airlines in Japan will deny boarding to Americans who seek to transit Japan without the required travel documents for their onward destinations in Asia.  For the entry requirements of the country you wish to visit, see the
State Department's Country Specific Information It is not usually possible to obtain a new U.S. passport and foreign visa during a brief stopover while transiting Japan, as tourist passport processing in Japan can take approximately two weeks.

Airlines in Japan will deny boarding to Americans for onward flights to China if the U.S. passport holder does not have a Chinese visa.  Without having pre-planned the entire trip, the traveler is faced with having to obtain a Chinese visa in Japan, which can be a lengthy and complex process.  The U.S. Embassy and consulates cannot assist in obtaining Chinese visas.  More information is available in the Country Specific Information for China Entry requirements for Hong Kong are available on our web site as well.

Military/SOFA Travelers:  While active-duty U.S. military personnel may enter Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with proper Department of Defense (DOD) identification and travel orders, all SOFA family members, civilian employees and contractors must have  valid passports and, in some cases,  SOFA visas to enter Japan.  Active-duty military personnel should obtain a tourist passport prior to leaving the United States to accommodate off-duty travel elsewhere in Asia as obtaining one while in Japan can take several weeks.  Personnel whose duties will include official travel should also obtain an Official Passport before coming to Japan to avoid delays of up to two months, as these overseas applications must be referred to a special office in Washington, adding to processing times.  DOD travelers should consult the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide, DOD 4500.54 before leaving the United States.

Long-Term Residency Requirements:  Japan modified its Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act in 2006.  Now, when renewing their residency status, certain long-term residents who obtained their resident status as a result of their Japanese descent (Nikkei or sansei, etc) must provide satisfactory evidence that they do not have a criminal record in their home country.  However, because Japanese requirements do not appear to be clear-cut, the Embassy recommends that residents consult with their local immigration office before starting the process of obtaining their U.S. criminal record.  For more details about Japanese residency requirements, check with the nearest immigration office in Japan.  U.S. citizens with long-term resident status in Japan who are required to provide evidence that they do not have criminal records should request such service at FBI Identification Record Request.

Also, it is important to remember that "Long-Term Resident" (Teijusha) and "Permanent Resident" (Eijusha) are different and are subject to different requirements.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents of Japan.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:

There have been no major terrorist incidents in Japan since 1995; however, U.S. citizens should be aware of the potential risks and take these into consideration when making travel plans.

The Government of Japan maintains heightened security measures at key facilities and ports of entry as antiterrorism precautions.  These security measures can be expected to increase coincident with regional tensions related to North Korea.  The Government of Japan is vigilant in tracking terrorist threat indicators and remains at a high state of alert.  Local police substations (koban) and police emergency dispatchers (tel. 110) should be contacted to report suspicious activity.

Our offices in Japan disseminate threat information through our nationwide email warden system and post current threat information on the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizens Services (ACS) web pageU.S. citizens resident in or visiting Japan are encouraged to sign up for an e-mail newsletter Anyone may register for our emailed warden system messages through our website.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs' website.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.

CRIME:

Organized crime is acknowledged to operate on a wide basis in Japan.  These groups, called yakuza, are heavily involved in sex-related industries such as pornography and prostitution, and are also involved in gambling and protection rackets.  Due to the large investment by yakuza in the night entertainment business, travelers may be exposed to their operations or wander into bars or night clubs run by yakuza.

The general crime rate in Japan is at levels well below the U.S. national average.  Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan usually involve personal disputes, theft or vandalism.  Violent crime is rare, but does exist.  Sexual assaults are not prevalent, but do occur, and females may be randomly targeted.  Hate-related violent crimes rarely occur, though some Americans have reported being the target of comments or actions because of their foreign status or their race.  Incidents of pickpocketing of foreigners in crowded shopping areas, on trains and at airports have been a sporadic concern.  Every year, a number of Americans report their passports lost or stolen at Narita Airport, especially passports being carried in pockets.

Some Americans report that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a victim's concerns than would be the case in the United States, particularly in cases involving domestic violence or sexual assault, or when both the victim and the perpetrator are foreigners.  Few victim's assistance resources or battered women's shelters exist in major urban areas, and they are generally unavailable in rural areas.  Investigations of sexual assault crimes are often conducted without women police officers present and typically involve inquiries into the victim's sexual history and previous relationships.  The quality of translations can vary significantly, and has proven unsatisfactory to some American victims.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, importing these items into the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

Concerns Regarding Roppongi, Tokyo: Roppongi, an entertainment district that caters to foreign clientele, is considered a high-risk area for crime. Americans in Tokyo have reported a substantial number of crimes in Roppongi.   Incidents involving U.S. citizens since the spring of 2004 include murder, assault, overdoses on heroin allegedly purchased in Roppongi, theft of purses, wallets, cash and credit cards at bars or clubs, and drugs allegedly slipped into drinks.

Drink-spiking has routinely led to robbery and has also resulted in physical and sexual assaults. Most drink-spiking reports describe a situation in which the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been secretly mixed with a drug that renders the victim unconscious or stuporous for several hours, during which time large charges are fraudulently billed to the victim’s credit card, or the card is stolen.  Victims sometimes regain consciousness in the bar or club, while at other times awaken on the street.  Several Americans have also reported being charged exorbitant bar tabs in some bars and clubs in Roppongi.

Please be aware that Roppongi has also been the scene of violence between criminal syndicates in the past.  Americans are urged to keep these incidents in mind and avoid the Roppongi area in favor of less risky entertainment areas.

VICTIMS OF CRIME:

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State list of embassies and consulates ).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Japan is 110.

Contacting Police, Fire and Ambulance Services:  Police can be summoned throughout Japan by dialing 110.  Fire and ambulance services can be summoned by dialing 119.  These numbers may not work from cell phones, however, and English-speaking dispatchers may not be available.  Please review advice on how to call for helpPersons seeking assistance should be able to describe their address/location in Japanese or enlist a friend who can do so, as few police officers speak English.

Please see our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  People who violate Japanese law, even unknowingly, may be deported, arrested or imprisoned.  Persons arrested in Japan, even for a minor offense, may be held in detention without bail for several months or more during the investigation and legal proceedings.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. A list of English-speaking lawyers located throughout Japan is available on our website.

Illegal Drugs:  Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs, including marijuana, in Japan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and fines.  In most drug cases, suspects are detained incommunicado, which bars them from receiving visitors or corresponding with anyone other than a lawyer or a U.S. consular officer until after indictment. Solitary confinement is common.

People can be convicted of drug use based on positive blood or urine tests alone, and many Americans are now serving time in Japanese prisons as the result of sting operations and the use of informants.  The Japanese police routinely share information on drug arrests with Interpol, assuring that notification of the arrest will reach U.S. law enforcement agencies.  About a quarter of all Americans now in prison in Japan are incarcerated for drug-related crimes.

Japanese authorities aggressively pursue drug smugglers with sophisticated detection equipment, "sniffing" dogs and other methods.  Travelers and their luggage entering Japan are screened at ports of entry.  Incoming and outgoing mail, as well as international packages sent via DHL or FED EX, is also checked carefully.  The Japanese police make arrests for even the smallest amounts of illegal drugs. Several Americans are now in custody after having mailed illegal drugs to themselves from other countries, or for having tried to bring drugs into Japan as paid couriers working out of Southeast Asia or Europe.

Knives:  Possession of a knife with a locking blade, or a folding blade that is longer than 5.5 cm (a little more than two inches), is illegal in Japan.  Two Americans have been arrested in the past year for carrying pocket knives which are legal in the United States, but are illegal in Japan.  Both Americans spent more than ten days in detention before being released by police.

Immigration Penalties:  Japanese work visas are issued outside of Japan for a specific job with a specific employer at a specific place of employment and are not transferable.  It is illegal for U.S. citizens to work in Japan while in tourist or visa-waiver status.  Japanese authorities do not allow foreigners to change their immigration status from visa-waiver status to work status while in Japan. Japanese immigration officers may deny entry to travelers who appear to them to have no visible means of support.  Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese consulate in the United States for guidance on what constitutes adequate financial support.  A U.S. citizen who works in Japan without a work visa may be subject to arrest, which can involve several weeks or months of incarceration, followed by conviction and imprisonment or deportation.  The deportee must bear the cost of deportation, including legal expenses and airfare.

Fines for overstaying one’s visa or working illegally can run into thousands of dollars, and in some cases, re-entry bans can be as long as 10 years, or indefinitely for drug offenders.  For additional information please see Japan’s Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:


Customs Regulations: Japan has very strict laws regarding the importation and possession of firearms and other weapons.  Persons bringing a firearm or sword into Japan (including target and trophy pistols, air guns, some pocket knives, and even Japanese-origin swords) may have these items confiscated by Japanese customs authorities and may be arrested, prosecuted and deported or jailed. Some prescription medications, as well as some over-the-counter medications, cannot be imported into Japan.  (Please see the "Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and other Medication" section below.)  Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese consulate in the United States, or visit the Japanese Customs website in English for specific information regarding import restrictions and customs requirements.

Japanese customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary importation into Japan of professional equipment, commercial samples and/or goods for exhibitions and trade fairs.  The ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036 issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States.  For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for details.

Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medication:  Decisions on which medications may be imported legally into Japan are made by the Japanese government, and the limited information available at the Japanese Embassy and its consulates does not include comprehensive lists of specific medications or ingredients.

Up to a two-month supply of allowable over-the-counter medication and up to a two-month supply of allowable vitamins can be brought into Japan duty-free.  However, it is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications.  Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephedrine such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) or codeine are prohibited.  Generally, up to one month's supply of allowable prescription medicine can be brought into Japan.  Travelers must bring a copy of their doctor's prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug.  However, some U.S. prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription.  Travelers should not mail prescription medicines including insulin and injectors, without obtaining an import certification called “Yakkan-Syoumei” from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.  Please see more information on importing medicines into Japan.

Japanese physicians can often prescribe similar, but not identical, substitutes for medicines available in the United States.  A Japanese doctor, consulted by phone in advance, can also be a good source of information on medications available and/or permitted in Japan.  See the list of English-speaking medical facilities throughout Japan on our website.  Some popular medications that are legal in the U.S., such as Prozac and Viagra, are sold illegally in Japan on the black market.  You risk arrest and imprisonment if you purchase such drugs illegally while in Japan.

Persons traveling to Japan carrying prescription and non-prescription medications should consult the Japanese Embassy, or a Japanese consulate, in the United States before leaving the U.S. to confirm whether they will be allowed to bring the particular medication into Japan.

Pets:  The Japanese Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) sets procedures for importing pets.  In most instances, the process will take at least seven (7) months from the date of the first rabies vaccination before a pet may enter Japan, so advance planning is critical.  More information about importing a pet into Japan or information about exporting a pet from Japan is available on our embassy website.

Consular Access:  U.S. citizens must carry their U.S. passports or Japanese alien registration cards with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, they can prove identity, citizenship, and immigration status.  Under Japanese law, the police may stop any person on the street at any time and demand to see identification.  If a foreigner does not have with him/her either a passport or valid Japanese Alien Registration Card, he or she is subject to arrest.  In accordance with the U.S.-Japan Consular Convention, U.S. consular officers are generally notified within 24 hours of the arrest of a U.S. citizen, if the U.S. citizen requests consular notification.

Conditions at Prisons and Detention Facilities:  Japanese prisons and detention facilities maintain internal order through a regime of very strict discipline.  American-citizen prisoners often complain of stark, austere living conditions and psychological isolation.  A prisoner can become eligible for parole only after serving about 60-70% of his/her sentence.  Early parole is not allowed for any reason--humanitarian, medical or otherwise.  Access to interpreters is not always required under Japanese criminal law.  Additional information on arrests in Japan is available on our embassy website. Japan acceded to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons on June 1, 2003.  Please see our information on Prisoner Transfer Treaties.

Employment Issues:  U.S. citizens are advised against coming to work in Japan without having the proper employment visa arranged ahead of time, or in the hopes of earning a large salary.  Teaching English, even privately, and serving as hosts are both considered "work" in Japan and are illegal without the proper visa.

Some U.S.-based employment agencies and Japanese employers do not fully discuss, or correctly represent, the true nature of employment terms and conditions.  U.S. consular officers in Japan receive numerous complaints from U.S. citizens who come to Japan to work as English teachers, carpenters, models, actors, entertainers, exotic dancers and bar hosts/hostesses,  and who encounter situations including contract violations, non-payment of salary for months at a time, sexual harassment, intimidation, and threats of arrest, deportation and physical assault.

A minimum requirement for effectively seeking the protection of Japanese labor law is a written and signed work contract.  Without such a contract, Japanese authorities do not intervene on behalf of foreign workers.  It is prudent for U.S. citizens coming to work in Japan to carefully review their contracts and the bona fides of their Japanese employer before traveling to Japan.  U.S. consular officers generally are unable to confirm the bona fides of prospective Japanese employers, although they may be familiar with organizations about which they have received complaints in the past.  If asked to do something they find troubling, U.S. citizens may wish to reassess their reason for being in Japan and consider terminating their employment and returning to the United States.  Complaints against U.S.-based employment agencies or recruiters may be directed to the Better Business Bureau or the Office of the Attorney General of the state in question.

Living Expenses:  Japan's cost of living is one of the highest in the world.  The use of credit/debit cards is not widespread, particularly outside major cities.  While there are ATMs in Japan, most are not open 24 hours a day or do not accept U.S.-issued cards.  ATMs at major airports, foreign bank branches, Japanese post offices and some convenience stores are more likely to accept foreign cards than are other locations.  Please be aware that there is no Western Union in Japan.  Please see our website for additional information on financial arrangements in Japan

Taxi fares from airports to downtown Osaka and Tokyo can cost hundreds of dollars; bus fare can run US$30 or more.  The airport departure fee is generally included in the ticket prices for flights departing from both Narita (Tokyo) International Airport and Kansai (Osaka) International Airport.

English Help and Information Lines:  Tourists and foreign residents in Japan have access to valuable information, including professional counseling, via help and information telephone hotlines. The Tokyo English Lifeline provides English-speaking counseling and referrals at 03-5774-0992.  The Japan Help Line provides similar assistance nationwide at 0570-000-911 (domestic), 813-3435-8017 (international).

Disaster Preparedness:  Japan is faced with the ever-present danger of deadly earthquakes and typhoons.  Japan is one of the most seismically active locations in the world; minor tremors are felt regularly throughout the islands.  While responsibility for caring for disaster victims, including foreigners, rests with the Japanese authorities, one of the first things a traveler should do upon arriving in Japan is to learn about earthquake and disaster preparedness from hotel or local government officials.  Additional details on self-preparedness are available on the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizens Services (ACS) web page and on the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

While medical care in Japan is good, English-speaking physicians and medical facilities that cater to Americans' expectations are expensive and not widespread.  Japan has a national health insurance system, which is available only to those foreigners with long-term visas for Japan.  National health insurance does not pay for medical evacuation.  Medical caregivers in Japan require payment in full at the time of treatment or concrete proof of ability to pay before treating a foreigner who is not a member of the national health insurance plan.

U.S.-style and standard psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan, and generally is not available outside of Japan's major cities.  Extended psychiatric care for foreigners in Japan is difficult to obtain at any price.

U.S. prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so travelers with ongoing prescription medicine needs should arrive with a sufficient supply for their stay in Japan, or enough until they are able to see a local care provider.  Certain medications, including some commonly prescribed for depression and Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD), are not widely available.  Please see the section below entitled, "Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medication," regarding the importation of medicine into Japan.  See information on importing medicines into Japan.  A list of medical facilities in Japan with English-speaking staff is available on our website.

The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States.  U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.  It can be both difficult and expensive for foreigners not insured in Japan to receive medical care.  Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000 or more, depending on the patient’s location and medical condition.  Private U.S. citizens are ineligible for treatment at U.S. military hospitals in Japan and are ineligible for U.S. military medical evacuation to the United States.  Access to U.S. military facilities is controlled solely by the military; veterans with service-connected disabilities should contact the appropriate U.S. military hospital before traveling to Japan.

Almost no health care providers accept U.S.-based health insurance "up front"; patients pay in cash and then seek reimbursement from their insurance company once they return home.  Most small clinics and some large hospitals do not accept credit/debit cards.  No facility accepts checks drawn on U.S. bank accounts.

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad.  Important questions are whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Japan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Japan is quite complicated and expensive.  Those who cannot read the language will have trouble understanding road signs.  Highway tolls are assessed at about $1 (U.S.) per mile. City traffic is often very congested.  A 20-mile trip in the Tokyo area may take two hours.  There is virtually no legal roadside parking.  In mountainous areas, roads are often closed during the winter, and cars should be equipped with tire chains.  Roads in Japan are much narrower than those in the United States. Japanese compulsory insurance (JCI) is mandatory for all automobile owners and drivers in Japan. Most short-term visitors choose not to drive in Japan.  Vehicular traffic moves on the left.  Turns at red lights are forbidden, unless specifically authorized.

Japanese law provides that all drivers in Japan are held liable in the event of an accident, and assesses fault in an accident on all parties.  Japan has a national zero percent blood-alcohol level standard for driving, and drivers stopped for driving under the influence of intoxicants will have their licenses confiscated.  Persons found guilty of "drunken, speeding or blatantly careless driving resulting in injury" are subject to up to 15 years in prison.  The National Police Agency (NPA) oversees the administration and enforcement of traffic laws.  Further information in English is available on the NPA's website.

Emergency Assistance:  Within Japan, please dial 110 for police, and 119 for ambulance.  For roadside assistance, please contact the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) at 03-5730-0111 in Tokyo, 072-645-0111 in Osaka, 011-857-8139 in Sapporo, 092-841-5000 in Fukuoka, or 098-877-9163 in Okinawa.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.

For specific information concerning Japanese driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please refer to the Japan National Tourist Organization website for locations in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco.  In addition, information about roadside assistance, rules of the road, and obtaining a Japanese driver's license is available in English from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) web site.

International Driving Permits (IDPs):  An international driving permit issued in the United States by the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) is required of short-term visitors who drive in Japan. International driving permits (IDPs) are not issued by the U.S. Embassy or by its consulates and must be obtained prior to arriving in Japan.  IDPs issued via the Internet and/or by other organizations are not considered valid in Japan.  IDPs issued to Americans in third countries where they are not resident are often considered invalid, or are subject to close scrutiny.

"Residents" – the exact boundary is unclear - are expected to convert to or obtain a Japanese driver’s license.  Persons using an international driver’s license who are resident in Japan can be subject to fines or arrest.  .  In practice, the term “resident” seems to involve more than simply visa status or length of stay in Japan and is determined by the police.  In short, an international license is not a permanent or expedient substitute for a valid Japanese license.  See our website for more information on driving in Japan.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Japan’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Japan’s air carrier operations.  Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page .

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abductionJapan is not a Hague Convention signatory and U.S. court custody decisions are not enforceable in Japan.  Almost all children born to a Japanese parent and a U.S. citizen since the 1980s are recognized as Japanese citizens and may travel on Japanese passports issued in the U.S. even if the left-behind parent in the U.S. does not agree to the issuance of a U.S. passport.  The embassy and our consulates do not have access to Japanese Immigration records and cannot confirm that a child has entered or departed Japan.  The Japanese government will not refuse entry to one of its citizens, even if that citizen is a dual-national child subject to a U.S. court-based custody decision and enters on a U.S. passport.  The embassy and our consulates cannot serve process, appear in court on a U.S.-based parent’s behalf or carry out U.S.-based arrest warrants.  Parents who attempt to re-abduct their children from Japan may be subject to kidnapping charges.

EMBASSY LOCATION:

Find information quickly and easily on consular services for all of Japan, including registration, passport renewal, legal matters and safety and security, using the convenient, alphabetized links on the U.S. Embassy’s website Please see our list of U.S. and Japanese holidaysSee maps to all our consular offices in Japan, along with directions on using public transportation to reach us.

U.S. Embassy in Tokyo


1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420 Japan
Telephone: 81-3-3224-5000
Emergency after-hours telephone:  81-3-3224-5000
Facsimile:  81-3-3224-5856

The Visa Information Service, operated by TeleTech Government Solutions, LLC in partnership with Computer Science Corporation (CSC), provides an operator-assisted service between 8:00 and 18:00, Monday through Friday (except on American and Japanese holidays). Please note that this is a user-pays service so users will need to have a valid credit card ready before using this service. The fee is $18.35 per call/email.   For more details, please see the U.S. Embassy website.

U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe

2-11-5 Nishitenma, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543
Telephone: 81-6-6315-5900
Emergency after-hours telephone: 81-6-6315-5900
Facsimile:  81-6-6315-5914

U.S. Consulate General in Naha

2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe, Okinawa 901-2104
Telephone:  81-98-876-4211
Emergency after-hours telephone: 81-98-876-4211
Facsimile:  81-98-876-4243

U.S. Consulate General in Sapporo

Kita 1-Jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821
Telephone:  81-11-641-1115
Emergency after-hours telephone: 81-11-641-1115
Facsimile:  81-11-643-1283.

U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka

2-5-26 Ohori, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052
Telephone:  81-92-751-9331
Emergency after-hours telephone: 81-92-751-9331
Facsimile:  81-92-713-9222.

U.S. Consulate in Nagoya

Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor, 1-47-1 Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001
Telephone:  81-52-581-4501
Emergency after-hours telephone: 81-52-581-4501
Facsimile:  81-52-581-3190.

The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya offers limited emergency consular services for U.S. citizens.  Consular officers from Osaka also travel to Nagoya on the second Wednesday of each month to provide Americans with notarial services, passport renewals, and reports of birth and passport applications for newborn children on an appointment basis.  To schedule an appointment for these American Citizen Services, contact Consulate General Osaka-Kobe at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , fax 06-6315-5914, or call 06-6315-5912 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Japan dated January 30, 2009, to update sections on Threats to Safety and Security, Crime, Criminal Penalties, Living Expenses, and Children’s issues.

 


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding Japan HERE.....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)..........

Regards

The SW Team....

 

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