Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. While one should always use common sense and be aware, walking around is quite safe, even at night. Nevertheless, it's always important to take standard precautions in crowds and nightspots and to avoid areas where one may be isolated and feel unsafe.
There is a 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
As with any other major tourist destination, pickpocketing in crowded spaces targeting tourists and foreigners occasionally occurs, particularly in Tokyo. 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 in Tokyo like Roppongi, as well as Shinjuku, 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 massive March 2011 quake that resulted in extensive damage and loss of life – do occur.
It's imperative to be prepared by maintaining awareness of local government disaster plans. It's also advisable to establish contact with one's embassy upon arrival in Japan. As 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.
Emergency response in Japan
Ambulance and fire: 119
►In the case of an emergency: what's an expat to do? is a useful resource written by an expat who experienced a Japanese earthquake first-hand.
►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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