Nov 09. 2020Topics

How to send out an SOS signal in Tokyo! Just in case, useful to know a way of making an emergency call


1. Safe Japan, yet you may need to send out an SOS

People who have visited Japan would have had an impression that "Japan is a really safe and secure country."

Safety and security in Japan are in the world top class, so the tourists from overseas can safely enjoy staying in Japan.

However, we see crime news of things like money transfer swindling and violence via media like TV everyday, this means crimes and accidents are happening everyday somewhere in Japan.

Hoping those people from overseas who are visiting or have lived in Japan will not become victims, so we recommend them to be prepared and know whom to contact in case of an emergency in advance. There always an unexpected thing will happen, so being prepared how to deal with an emergency situation is ease of mind.

Looking for emergency numbers after or in a trouble happening maybe too late. The pressure in such situation may make you forget important phone numbers, therefore you must keep those contacts in the best way for you to remember.

2. Useful emergency numbers and how to make an emergency call in Japan

Japanese emergency numbers are probably different from those of other countries, so it is better to check them in advance if you are planning to visit or live in Japan.

・Police: dial 110

If you are caught in a crime or an accident, this is the number to call.

It is 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) service and free to call from anywhere in Japan. You will be asked things like whether it is an accident or a crime, the situation and the address, so you'd better be prepared to answer these. Also, your name will be asked.

If there is anyone injured, the operator will pass the information to the emergency rescue sector to send an ambulance there.

If your credit card is stolen, to avoid any unauthorized use, you must call the card company and the bank as well as reporting to the police.

・Fire fighter and emergency rescue: dial 119

In case of fire or needing an emergency medical support, call 119. this is also 24/7 service and free to call from anywhere in Japan.

The same number (119) is used for both fire and medical rescues, so you have to tell the operator which one you need clearly. And you have to inform the address of the location, cause, situation of the injury. In case of fire, also some detailed information, such as what is burning, would help.

If you can't find the address, you can describe any symbolic buildings or scenery around the area and the relative direction or distance.

・SOS over the sea area: dial 118

There is a special police sector for the safety and security over the sea, and 118 to call them. If you are enjoying marine sports, you should also remember this number (118).

You can make these phone calls, just inputting the three digits: 110, 119, or 118 (appropriately whom you want to call), without any area code.


・AMDA International medical information center

AMDA International medical information center covers whole Japan, and the opening time is 9:00 ~ 17:00 Monday to Friday only. (Tokyo Office TEL : 03-6233-9266)

・Tokyo metropolitan national insurance medical information center (Himawari)

Tokyo metropolitan insurance medical information center covers only Tokyo area and the service in foreign languages is open from 9:00 to 20:00 (Tel.:03-5285-8181).

The center offers services not only in English but also some other languages, such as Chinese, Korean, Thai, Spanish, and so on. This center explains you the medical system in Japan and will find hospitals where you can explain your problem in English or in your language.

Here, we have introduced you some useful emergency contacts while you are in Japan, but please do not make any test or prank call to these numbers (110, 119 or 118) because that act distracts their important operations for those seriously need a help.

If you made an unnecessary call by mistake, the police and fire fighter will set out to confirm the safety, so please make sure you sincerely apologize and explain it was actually a mistake.

The operators in these call centers should understand English, so that will give you some peace of mind.

4 Useful knowledge of a public pay phone

When you cannot use your cell phone or smart phone and have to make an emergency call while you are staying in Japan, you can use a public pay phone.

The number of public pay phone in Japan Is reduced since cell phones and smart phones are widely used, but still there are ones at the most of stations and airports, in public facilities, and by or at many of convenience stores.

You have to use a 10-yen coin or a phone card to make a usual phone call, but it is free to make those emergency calls (with these three numbers: 110 for the police; 119 for fire fighters or medical help; 118 for marine SOS).

Also, in an emergency situation of Disaster Relief Act must be conducted, you can make free phone calls from these public pay phones. (Please note that, this may not be every cases but depends on decisions by NTT East Japan and NTT West Japan phone companies). If you don't have a cell phone or smart phone with you, you can use those public phones.

5 Lastly...

This time, we have introduced one of the most important things to know, the emergency contact, if you are planning to visit or live in Japan.

Japan is relatively safe comparing with many other countries. However the population of Tokyo has grown rapidly and things never happened before don't mean they will never happen. Especially if you are in other country where you may have communication problems, you will not feel safe if you don't know the emergency numbers.

Of course, it is the best not to be involved in any troubles, but knowing where you can get help is also important.

I hope this information will be useful to you, and in case of a trouble, you should try to stay calm and remember these numbers to get a help.