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Emergency Assistance for Irish Citizens in Japan

What to do in an emergency:

First contact your family and/or friends at home. They may be able to resolve your difficulty for you or help you to do so without further assistance.

If you cannot resolve the matter by yourself, you can contact the Embassy using the out-of-hours service for Irish citizens requiring emergency assistance. If you are in need of emergency assistance, please ring the Embassy at 03 3263 0695 (or +81 3 3263 0695 from overseas).

If necessary, you can also make direct contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland, which has a 24-hour Duty Officer who may be contacted in emergencies at + 353 1 4780822.

Contacting the emergency services in Japan:

Ambulance 119
Fire 119
Police 110

Tokyo Police have English-speaking officers available from Monday to Friday 08.30 – 17.15 at (03) 3501 0110.

Always speak slowly and clearly when making an emergency call. English-speaking operators are available 24 hours a day in Tokyo and may be available in some other areas. However, you should know how to say your name and give directions to your home in Japanese. It is a good idea to have your address in the correct Japanese format in a safe place on your possession and close to your phone in your home. Useful phrases include:

“Wa-ta-shi no na-mae wa________desu”
My name is________________

- “Wa-ta-shi no juu-sho wa__________desu”
My address is____________

- “Wa-ta-shi no den-wa bangou wa______________ desu”
My phone number is_______________

Other useful phrases include:

- “Kyuu-kyuu-sha o yon-de ku-da-sai”
Please send an ambulance

- “Kei-kan o yon-de ku-da-sai”
Please send a police officer

- “Jiko desu”
There’s been an accident

- “Kaji desu”
There’s a fire

- “Do-ro-bo desu”
There’s been a robbery

Lost Passport:

lf you lose your passport abroad you should immediately report the loss to the local police and then to the Embassy.
Ask the Police for a written statement that you have reported the loss. You will require this to obtain a temporary passport from the Embassy.

In case of serious medical emergencies:

The Embassy can:

  • Offer general advice on the local medical services
  • Provide a list of local English-speaking doctors
  • Assist in liaising with doctors or hospitals
  • Arrange interpretation if necessary
  • Advise relatives or friends about accidents or illnesses
  • Assist in arranging repatriation to Ireland

However, the Embassy cannot:

  • Pay medical or hospital bills
  • Provide medical advice
  • Pursue insurance companies about payment of or refund of the cost of medical treatment
  • Pursue claims for compensation relating to negligence, injury or any other matter
  • Pay for visits by relatives

Healthcare is extremely expensive in Japan and all Irish citizens are strongly advised to retain insurance which will cover the cost of any medical treatment you may require, including emergency medical treatment in the case of accidents etc.

In addition to the Embassy, information about English-speaking doctors and medical facilities in your area can be obtained from the following sources:

AMDA International Medical Information Centre provides a free telephone service which assists foreign residents in finding English-speakers and in liaising with the Japanese medical system. The service is available Monday to Friday, 09.00 - 17.00.

  • In the Kanto area call: 03 5285 8088
  • In the Kansai area call: 06 4395 0555

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Health Medical Information Centre provides information on the medical system within the Tokyo area.

English-speaking operators are available from 09:00 – 20:00 Monday to Friday. Phone: 03 5285 8181.

The webpage of the Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Institution provides an online searchable index of hospitals in the Tokyo area.
This Institution also provides an Emergency Medical Interpretation Service (between 17:00 and 22:00 Monday to Friday and 09:00 – 22:00 on weekends and holidays) to facilitate medical institutions in providing emergency medical care to English-speaking nationals.

Crime:

If you have been the victim of a crime the Embassy can:

  • Inform family or friends of your situation
  • Help you to transfer funds from home if this is necessary
  • Provide a list of English-speaking lawyers
  • Assist in liaising with the local police
  • In exceptional circumstances, advance funds to you on the basis of a strict undertaking to repay the funds when you return to Ireland
  • Assist in arranging repatriation to Ireland

However, the Embassy cannot:

  • Give legal advice
  • Intervene in court proceedings
  • Investigate a crime
  • Pay legal costs

The National Police Agency of Japan maintains a website with information for foreign victims of crime.

Tokyo English Life Line provides phone counselling services to English speaking people throughout Japan. Tel: 03 5774 0992 (09:00 – 23:00 daily).

Arrest/Imprisonment:

One of the most important functions of Irish Embassies and Consulates is to ensure that the rights of Irish citizens who are arrested or imprisoned abroad are fully respected. If you are arrested, in many cases the local Authorities will only contact the Embassy if you specifically ask them to do so.

When the Embassy is informed of the arrest or imprisonment of an Irish citizen, we will respond immediately and provide all possible consular assistance.

The Embassy can:

  • Visit you or arrange for you to be visited by an Honorary Consul or by a representative of an Embassy or Consulate of one of our EU partners
  • If necessary, provide you with a list of local English-speaking lawyers
  • Advise you about the prison system and about your entitlement to visits, mail and other facilities
  • Bring details of any medical condition you may have to the attention of prison officials
  • Pursue with the prison authorities on your behalf complaints about ill-treatment or discrimination
  • Pass messages to and from your family

However, the Embassy cannot:

  • Secure better treatment for Irish citizens than local or other nationals receive
  • Give nor pay for legal advice
  • Interfere with or influence the local judicial system
  • Provide any financial assistance while you are in prison
  • Pay bail bonds or fines

The Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO) is a voluntary agency that provides assistance to Irish prisoners overseas and to their families in Ireland. The ICPO can be contacted at:

Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas
Columba Centre
St Patrick's College
Maynooth
Co Kildare

Tel: 00 353 1 505 3000
Fax: 00 353 1 601 6401
Email: icpo@iol.ie

Death Abroad:

In the event of the death of an Irish citizen in Japan, the Embassy will be on hand to provide all possible assistance to family/friends in dealing with the formalities that arise in these situations.

The Embassy can:

  • Arrange to have the next of kin of the deceased informed by the Garda Síochána
  • Assist relatives to appoint a local undertaker
  • Assist with procuring documents such as death certificates or medical or police reports
  • Assist relatives to communicate with the Police and other Authorities

However, the Embassy cannot:

  • Investigate the circumstances of the death
  • Pay expenses relating to local burial or cremation
  • Pay the cost of repatriating the remains
  • Pay for relatives to travel to where the death occurred or to accompany the remains to Ireland

Emergency Funds:

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Irish citizens travelling abroad sometimes experience financial difficulties. Such situations can usually be resolved easily and quickly by transferring money from Ireland through well-known commercial agencies.

If these channels are not available, the Embassy can contact your relatives or friends in Ireland to ask them to send you funds either directly or through the Department of Foreign Affairs. A statutory fee of €35 applies to a transfer of funds made through the Department.

The Department is unable, under any circumstances, to give loans or to pay any hotel or other expenses incurred by Irish citizens abroad.

Repatriation:

In very exceptional circumstances, where the health or security of an Irish citizen abroad is at risk and there is no way of dealing with the situation satisfactorily locally, the Department of Foreign Affairs may agree to repatriate the person to Ireland. This will be done at the sole discretion of the Department and subject to strict conditions which will be set out clearly in each case. The conditions include a written undertaking to repay all the expenses incurred as well as a statutory fee of €35.

Counselling Services:

If you require counselling services, you can contact the Tokyo English Life Line (TELL) at 03 5774 0992 (09.00 – 23.00 daily). TELL’s services are available throughout Japan, and in addition to phone counselling and information services they provide face-to-face counselling and referral.

The Embassy can also provide details of English-speaking therapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists in Japan on request.

 

Earthquake Preparation:

All Irish citizens in Japan should make sure that they are prepared to deal with an earthquake. They should, at the very least, make the following preparations:

  • Secure all furniture to the wall using the devices available from hardware stores.
  • Remove all heavy items from the tops of shelves and cupboards.
  • Know how to quickly shut off gas and electricity.
  • Install fire extinguishers and know how to use them.
  • Discuss with family members what to do in the event of an earthquake. Establish various gathering points inside and outside the house. Establish reunion points when the family is not at home – e.g. the nearest evacuation site to the home. Know how to use the telephone message boards which may be the only way to contact other family members in an earthquake.
  • Know the various evacuation routes from your house – practice in the dark, in case an earthquake happens at night.
  • Keep a flashlight by your bed.
  • Following an earthquake, public transport may be inoperative and roads may be blocked. You should therefore know the way home on foot from work– including various alternate routes. Leave a pair of comfortable walking shoes in the office.
  • Visit the designated emergency evacuation area nearest your home.
  • In an emergency, grey or green-coloured public phones will be free to use, and will have priority over other private lines. Establish where the closest public phones to your home are.
  • Know how to contact the Japanese Emergency services.
  • Assemble emergency supplies as detailed below:

Each home should have the following essential supplies for each person, sufficient for at least 3-5 days:

  • Water (4l per person per day)
  • Food (tinned or pre-cooked) & a tin opener
  • Flashlight with spare batteries
  • Radio (battery operated with spare batteries)
  • Large plastic bags (for rubbish etc.)
  • Soap and hygiene supplies
  • Essential medication (2 weeks supply)
  • Paper plates, cups, plastic utensils
  • First aid kit
  • Yen: small notes, ¥100 & ¥10 coins
  • Blankets
  • Bucket
  • Local maps –showing locations of payphones and emergency evacuation sites
  • Photocopies of key documents such as passports, foreign resident ID etc.

Disaster Message Exchange (DME):

In a crisis, NTT activates its “Disaster Message Exchange”. Each land-line phone number will have a message box, where people can record and listen to up to 10 messages. You can test the message exchange in the first day of every month.

To RECORD a message:

  1. Dial 171
  2. Press 1
  3. Enter your area code + phone number
  4. Press 1 and then #
  5. Wait for beep and record message (30 seconds max)
  6. When finished recording, press 9 then #.
  7. Re-record message by dialling 8 then #.

To LISTEN to a message:

  1. Dial 171
  2. Press 2
  3. Enter your area code + phone number
  4. Press 1 and then #
  5. Messages will be played from most recent to oldest.
  6. To re-play message, press 8 then #.
  7. To skip to next message press 9 then #
  8. To record a message after listening to playback press 3 then #.

I-Mode Disaster Message Exchange (for some mobile phones):

In the event of a crisis, DoCoMo (the mobile phone company) will activate its “i-mode Disaster Message Exchange”. If you have registered with this Message Board, you can very quickly inform others by e-mail that you are okay.

To register:

  1. Press “i-mode” button on your mobile phone.
  2. Click on ”i menu”.
  3. On the “i-menu” screen, navigate to “English” and click.
  4. Navigate to “Options” and click
  5. Click on “Disaster Message Board Notification Mail Settings”.
  6. Enter the addresses of the people whom you might wish to let know that you are okay, in the event of an emergency.
  7. Enter i-mode password (default is 0000).

In the event of an emergency:

  1. Press “i-mode” button on your mobile phone.
  2. Click on ”i menu”.
  3. On the “i-menu” screen, navigate to “English” and click.
  4. Disaster Message Board should be on this screen. Follow the instructions.

When an earthquake strikes:

If you are inside:

  • Do NOT rush outside. Being inside is invariably safer.
  • Open a door to establish an escape route.
  • Stay away from objects which may easily break a fall.
  • Stay away from windows. Find shelter under a table or doorway. If you can’t fit under a table, crouch down and grab on to one of its legs while covering your head.
  • Turn off the gas.
  • Extinguish any small fires, if possible.
  • If you’re in an elevator, press all the buttons and exit as soon as it opens.

If you are outside:

  • Watch your head for falling objects. Try and take refuge in a modern building or at least try to protect your head.
  • Avoid narrow roads and alleyways – walk in the centre of the road.
  • Follow the advice of the authorities.

In the immediate aftermath of an earthquake:

  • Be prepared for aftershocks – these can sometimes be stronger than the first tremor.
  • Make sure that you’re safe and well and then check on the safety of those around you.
  • Check that the gas is out and that there are no fires.
  • Make sure an exit is secured.
  • Follow the instructions of the police and other authorities.
  • Meet with your family at an agreed point or leave a message for them using the phone/mobile message boards
  • Contact your family/friends in Ireland to let them know your welfare. If you can’t get through, contact the Embassy and we’ll pass on the message.

More information about earthquake preparations:

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has produced a comprehensive website (in English) to allow people to adequately prepare for an earthquake.