Personal Safety

Make sure your print out this list of Emergency Japanese phrases and put it somewhere accessible in case of an emergency!

Japan is well known for being a safe country, but it is by no means a crime-free or
disaster-free country. It’s best to take the same precautions you would in your home country while also bearing in mind that—as a foreigner—you might stand out in your community. In the past there have incidents of JETs witnessing or being harassed, burglarized, stalked, or attacked. Please contact your PAs, supervisor, or CLAIR immediately if you experience an incident or you feel that your safety is being threatened.

The first rule in life in Japan as a foreigner is to always, ALWAYS carry your ALIEN REGISTRATION CARD (在留カード, or zairyu kaado or “gaijin card”).

This is the single most important document for your daily life in Japan. It will be your primary form of I.D. and may be requested of you at any time by police officers. Failure to keep it on hand can unnecessarily complicate matters.


Check out these other sites with great information on what to do in emergencies in Japan:

The Expat’s Guide to Japan: Emergencies

Savvy Tokyo: Easy Japanese for Emergencies and Calling Emergency Services


Knowing your rights can protect against fake cops

Make sure you carry your zairyu card (aka “gaijin card”) at all times. I know it can be annoying if you want to go out for a bike ride or just down the street to buy something from the vending machine, but police are legally allowed to stop you and ask for it at any time. For example, I have been stopped in an airport waiting for my dad to arrive for a visit, and multiple Tochigi JETs were stopped soon after the 2015 Paris bombing. (Yes it encourages racial profiling, but it’s best not to make a scene and just cooperate.)

However, if you feel that something is not right with the situation and suspect that the officer is a fake, make sure you know your rights. Please everyone read this article–it has a lot of details regarding what to do if you suspect a fake or unlawful police officer.


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