Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. While one should always use common sense and be aware, it's quite safe to walk around, even at night.
There is a very highly developed sense of moral duty and correct behaviour instilled in children from a young age in Japan, which means that people generally take care of each other.
Crime in Japan
It's always important to take normal precautions in crowds and nightspots and to avoid areas where one may be isolated and feel unsafe. Pickpocketing in crowded spaces targeting tourists and foreigners does occasionally occur. Expats should take care of their passports and other valuables in airports and public transport areas.
In particular, certain red light and entertainment districts in Tokyo are often targeted by thieves. Popular expat nightlife spots like Roppongi, as well as Shinjuku (particularly Kabukicho), Shibuya and Ikebukuro, have been flagged as high-risk for credit card fraud, assault and theft, as well as drink-spiking. Expats should be aware of their surroundings, take care of their possessions and not leave drinks unattended in these areas.
Earthquakes in Japan
Japan is located in the most seismically active area in the world and there's a real and ever-present danger of earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as typhoons. Minor tremors occur regularly, and occasional large quakes – such as the March 2011 quake that resulted in extensive damage and loss of life – do occur. It's extremely important to be prepared by being aware of local government disaster plans. It's also advisable to make contact with one's embassy upon arrival in Japan. Although Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, the early warning systems that have been put in place are very reliable and have helped prevent further damage.
As a result of the 2011 quake, visitors should avoid travelling or living within a certain distance of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in the northwest of Japan, as well as other evacuation areas noted by the Japanese government.
Emergency response in Japan
National Japan English helpline: 03 3501 0110
Tokyo English Life Line (TELL): 03 5774 0992
►In the case of an emergency: what's an expat to do? is a useful resource written by an expat who experiences a Japanese earthquake firsthand.
►For an overview about hospitals and the national health insurance scheme, read Healthcare in Japan
Are you an expat living in Japan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Japan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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