- Exercise normal safety precautions in Japan. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travel conditions.
- Relations between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) remain tense. The DPRK has conducted underground nuclear tests and ballistic missile tests, further aggravating the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. Further provocations by the DPRK directed at neighbouring countries, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, cannot be ruled out. Australians in Japan should monitor developments closely due to the risk that tensions on the Korean Peninsula could escalate with little warning. See Safety and security.
- Japan is subject to earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and volcanic activity. The
Japan Meteorological Agency provides up-to-date information in English on these issues. See
- Radiation levels in most parts of Japan, including Tokyo, are within the normal range of variation of background radiation. See
exercise a high degree of caution in Areas 1 and 2 near the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant as specified by the
not travel to Area 3 near the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, as specified by the
- The Hague Convention (Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction) entered into force in Japan on 1 April 2014. Japanese family law is very different from Australian law. See
- Every year a number of people are injured or killed during the winter months in snow-related accidents in Japan. See
Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
Visas are not normally required for Australians entering Japan for tourism for visits of less than 90 days. Japan's Visa Waiver Program is strictly enforced. Visitors may be refused entry if the applicant is unable to provide evidence of sufficient funds, an onward/return ticket or confirmed accommodation arrangements, or if immigration authorities believe the traveller intends to seek employment. If entry is denied, the decision cannot be appealed and travellers may be refused entry into Japan for up to five years
As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the nearest
Embassy or Consulate of Japan for up-to-date information. The Embassy of Japan in Canberra has information for visa applicants on its
website. Other informative websites are:
Immigration Bureau of Japan, and the
Customs and Tariff Bureau of Japan.
All foreign nationals, including permanent residents of Japan, are required to have their fingerprints electronically scanned and are photographed upon arrival in Japan. Refusal to provide fingerprints or be photographed is grounds for refusal of entry into Japan. People under 16 years of age and holders of diplomatic or official visas are exempt. More information is available from the
Immigration Bureau of Japan.
If you reside in Japan, ensure you are aware of, and comply with, relevant immigration, visa and residence registration requirements. Further information is available from the
Immigration Bureau of Japan and
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication.
Japan has strict rules governing the importation of medication, and what can be carried into the country by travellers for personal use. See
Health section for more information.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Safety and security
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has conducted underground nuclear tests and continues to carry out ballistic missile tests, further aggravating the already tense situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. The DPRK has left open the possibility of conducting further tests in the future. The DPRK undertakes belligerent actions, or ‘provocations’, from time to time. Further provocations by the DPRK or reactions by neighbouring countries, including the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan, cannot be ruled out. Historically, there has been heightened rhetoric from the DPRK during annual ROK/US military exercises, in which Australia also participates. These routine and scheduled military exercises usually take place in February/March and August/September.
Australians in Japan should monitor developments closely and follow the instructions of local authorities because of the risk that tensions on the Korean Peninsula could escalate with little warning. You should also read the advice on preparing for emergencies produced by the Japanese Cabinet Secretariat for National Security Affairs and Crisis Management.
Japan generally has a low rate of crime. However, exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
There have been reports of bars and night clubs (particularly in the Roppongi and Kabuki-cho entertainment areas of Tokyo) targeting foreign citizens for overcharging, fraudulent credit card charges, drink spiking, illegal drugs and, in some cases, assault. Some venues use street touts to entice foreigners into their premises. Australians have reported incidents where they have been poured drinks that have a higher percentage of alcohol than would normally be expected. In some cases, victims have woken up in unknown locations and/or discovered exorbitant credit card charges.
Avoid street touts or accepting drinks from strangers. Keep an eye on your belongings and never leave your drink unattended. Victims have experienced difficulties in obtaining police reports to submit to their banks and travel insurers.
Avoid carrying credit cards or large amounts of cash to parties, bars, clubs or entertainment districts. Think about your personal safety, take appropriate precautions and refer to our information for travellers
partying overseas for further advice.
Sporadic incidents of bag snatching have occurred. Exercise normal safety precautions and take care with your valuables.
Japanese government authorities cannot rule out the threat of terrorism in Japan. As a counter-terrorism measure, the Japanese government has, since July 2005, implemented heightened security measures at key facilities including on public transport and at ports of entry.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our
Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.
Money and valuables
Cash is preferred in Japan. Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels, but many shops and service providers do not accept payment by card. Credit card facilities are not widely available, especially outside Tokyo.
ATMs may not accept all foreign cards. Check with your bank and card provider as to whether your ATM card and credit card will work in Japan and the location of ATM services for your card in Japan. Banks that exchange travellers cheques may also be limited in some areas of Japan.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to
report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest
Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Japan National Tourism Organisation provides regularly updated emergency information in English as well as other essential advice to travellers on how to have a safe and hassle-free visit to Japan.
Fukushima and surrounding areas
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) provides information on radiation in Japan. ARPANSA assesses that the radiation levels in most parts of Japan, including Tokyo, are within the normal range of variation of background radiation.
The best source of advice on the local situation in Japan is the Japanese Government. Details of Japanese response measures and monitoring programs are available from the
Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare,
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the
Nuclear Regulation Authority. You should ensure you are aware of, and follow, the advice of local authorities.
There are some exclusion zones around the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.
Areas 1 and 2 near the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant as specified by the Japanese Government: Exercise a high degree of caution in Areas 1 and 2 as specified by the
Japanese Government because of low levels of radionuclide contamination in these areas. Should an overnight stay be planned, seek advice from local authorities.
Area 3 near the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant as specified by the Japanese Government: Do not travel to Area 3, as specified by the
Japanese Government, because of elevated levels of radionuclide contamination in this area.
Heavy snowfalls and ice in the winter can make driving dangerous. See our
road travel page for further information on overseas road safety.
To drive in Japan, you must hold either a valid Japanese driver's licence or a valid International Driver's Permit (IDP) in conjunction with a current Australian state driver's licence. For more information, refer to our Driving in Japan page.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the
Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Japan.
Refer to our general
air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Japan, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our
Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Police powers in Japan may be very different from Australia. Police have broad authority to stop, search, seize and detain. Police can stop you on the street, demand identification and search you and your possessions. Travellers visiting for less than 90 days are required to carry their passport at all times. Foreigners residing in Japan must always carry their residence card.
If you're a public place, police can seize knives longer than 5.5cm (including blades and penknives), firearms, any other weapons or items that could be used as weapons, drugs and any item they can reasonably suspect was stolen or unlawfully obtained. If any of these items are found in your possession, it is likely that you will be detained.
If you're arrested, you can be detained for up to 23 days without charge. Even if you consider that the alleged offence may be minor, you may be held for weeks or months during the investigation and legal proceedings.
The initial police interview may last several hours and be recorded in writing rather than electronically. Under Japanese law, you can remain silent if you wish, access legal representation, and have an interpreter provided. However, police are entitled to question you without your lawyer present. English interpretation may be sub-standard. A list of English-speaking lawyers around Japan is available on the
website of the Australian Embassy.
Be aware that some local laws and penalties may be very different from those in Australia. Penalties for serious crimes, such as murder, include the death penalty. Other sentences can include heavy fines, lengthy imprisonment with hard labour and deportation.
Possession of illegal drugs is a crime. You can be charged with possession if trace amounts are found in your bloodstream or urine. Do not use, carry or get involved with drugs. For more information, see our
The minimum age for purchasing and consuming alcohol in Japan is 20.
Japan has a national zero per cent blood-alcohol level standard for driving. It is also an offence for a passenger to allow someone under the influence of alcohol to drive.
It is illegal to import and possess firearms or other weapons without a proper permit.
In some parts of Tokyo and other cities, smoking on the streets is prohibited. Those caught are liable for an on-the-spot fine.
The use of UHF-CB radios (walkie-talkies) which do not meet Japanese specifications (such as those purchased outside Japan), is prohibited.
It is an offence to obstruct the duties of an official, for example by resisting arrest.
Japanese family law is very different from Australian law. After divorce, only one parent can legally have parental rights in relation to a child. Child custody and access, and divorce decisions are based on Japanese family law. If you're involved in custody and other family disputes you should ensure you consult a lawyer for advice before you leave Australia on how Japanese family law may impact your family circumstances.
The Hague Convention (Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction) entered into force in Japan on 1 April 2014. If you are concerned that your child has been wrongfully removed or detained in Japan, contact the Attorney-General's Department in Australia. See our
Travelling with children page for further information.
Some unscrupulous employment agents entice foreigners to work in Japan without the correct visa, or with financial arrangements which could leave the foreigner vulnerable to exploitation. Australians have been arrested for working in the 'entertainment industry' while in Japan on a tourist visa. If you are considering travel to Japan for work, verify the true nature of the work being offered and make sure you have the correct visa before arriving in Japan. You may also wish to seek professional legal advice before signing any contract. For general information and tips see our
Living and working overseas page.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Take out comprehensive
travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The
World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our
health pages also provide useful information.
If you or a travelling companion has a mental health condition, you should assess the possible challenges that can arise while travelling overseas. Different environments, unfamiliar customs and language barriers may exacerbate existing mental health conditions and possibly trigger unfamiliar mental health issues. Mental health treatment and facilities can differ significantly to those in Australia. See our Mental Health page for more information. Australians should be aware of the strict local regulations and procedures for importing prescription medication into Japan.
Medical facilities across Japan are of a high standard. Medical facilities with English-speaking staff can be found in most major cities. Medical care in Japan can be expensive. Payment in full or a guarantee that costs will be met is usually required at the time of treatment. A list of medical institutions throughout Japan is available on the
Japan has a number of hospitals equipped with decompression chambers, located in regions where diving is popular.
Bringing medicine into Japan
Japan has strict rules governing the importation of medication, and what can be carried into the country by travellers for personal use. Medicines are classified into five categories in Japan (general, narcotic, psychotropic, stimulant medicine or a medical device). Depending on the classification, name and quantity of the medicine, you may be required to apply for permission/certification in order to take that medicine into the country.
Some medicines including the stimulant medicine dexamphetamine (used to treat ADHD) and pseudoephedrine (found in some cold and flu tablets) are banned in Japan and you may be detained if you are found with them. Others such as narcotic medicines (codeine, morphine and oxycodone) require you to apply for a Narcotic Certificate. If you do not have this certificate when entering Japan, the medicine may be confiscated.
For further information, including obtaining application forms, and medicine classifications, refer to the Bringing Medicine into Japan webpage found on the Embassy of Japan website. You can also enquire directly with the relevant Pharmaceutical Inspector in Japan.
There have been a significant number of cases of measles in Japan in recent years. The mosquito-borne disease Japanese encephalitis occurs in rural areas of Japan.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
For criminal issues, contact the local police at the nearest police station or on the Police national emergency number. You should always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
Emergency contact numbers in Japan are as follows.
Australians residing in Japan can obtain information on living in Japan, in English, from the
Japanese Cabinet Office, the
Council of Local Authorities for International Relations, and the
Tokyo International Communications Committee. In Tokyo, the
Foreign Residents' Advisory Centre (81 3) 5320 7744 can provide assistance and advice in English.
Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below.
Australian Embassy Tokyo
2-1-14 Mita, Minato-ku
TOKYO 108 8361
Telephone: (81 3) 5232 4111
Facsimile: (81 3) 5232 4057
website of the Embassy for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
You may also seek consular assistance from the following Australian Consulates-General and Consulates in Japan.
Australian Consulate-General Osaka
16th floor, Twin 21MID Tower
2-1-61 Shiromi, Chuo-ku
OSAKA 540 6116
Telephone: (81 6) 6941 9271 or (81 6) 6941 9448
Facsimile: (81 6) 6920 4543
Australian Consulate-General Fukuoka
7th Floor, Tenjin Twin Building
1-6-8 Tenjin, Chuo-ku
FUKUOKA 810 0001
Telephone (81 92) 734 5055
Facsimile (81 92) 734 5058
Australian Consulate Sapporo
17th floor, Sapporo Centre Building
North 5, West 6 2-2 Chuo-ku
SAPPORO 060 0005
Telephone (81 11) 242 4381
Facsimile (81 11) 242 4383
In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy, you can contact the 7 day 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Japan is subject to volcanic activity, earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons. Taking responsibility for your own and your family's preparedness to deal with emergencies, natural disasters or any form of crisis is even more important when you are travelling overseas. Familiarise yourself with the advice from local authorities on preparing for a natural disaster and follow their advice if a natural disaster does occur. In an emergency, the Australian Government's ability to provide consular assistance may be severely limited.
Maintain a basic emergency supply kit at all times. Also, carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. Radio stations in the Tokyo area that broadcast emergency information in English include the US Armed Forces station at 810AM and Inter FM (76.1FM).
The Japan National Tourism Organisation provides disaster preparedness safety tips for visitors to Japan and other useful emergency information.
Typhoons and severe weather
The typhoon season is from May to November. Local authorities broadcast current typhoon information through the local media and the
Japan Meteorological Agency website. The precise path and strength of a typhoon are difficult to predict and can change quickly. Closely monitor the local media for weather updates and information about preparations being made and follow the advice of local authorities. You can also check the latest typhoon information from the
World Meteorological Organization Severe Weather Information Centre. Read our information for travellers on
severe weather so that you can prepare in the event of a typhoon.
Earthquakes and Tsunamis
There is constant risk of earthquakes and tsunamis throughout Japan. See our
earthquakes page for advice on travelling to and living in an earthquake-prone region. Information in English about earthquakes and tsunamis can be obtained from the
Japan Meteorological Agency.
Familiarise yourself with emergency evacuation plans in your region and identify your local shelter, which is often a local school or other public facility. Information on emergency plans in your area can be obtained from local or prefectural government offices. After a major earthquake, follow the advice of the local authorities and emergency services. Local authorities bear primary responsibility for providing assistance during a crisis to people living or travelling within their jurisdictions.
You can also check for information on earthquakes (and tsunamis) in the Pacific on the
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center website. If you are in coastal regions after a major earthquake, move to higher ground immediately.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches.
There are 110 active volcanoes in Japan, several of which currently sit at alert level 2 (do not approach the crater) and alert level 3 (do not approach the volcano). Mount Sakura and Kuchinoerabu Island, located in southern Japan, are both currently at alert level 3.
Heed the advice of local authorities and stay informed of local alert levels, which can change at short notice, if you plan to visit the area of a volcano. A complete list of the latest volcano warnings can be found on the website of the
Japan Meteorological Agency.
Winter in Japan is known for heavy snowfalls and extremely low temperatures. Conditions can change suddenly. Each year, a number of people are injured or killed during the winter months in snow related incidents – including motor vehicle accidents, avalanches, ice falls from roofs, prolonged exposure to extreme cold and ski collisions.
Walking alone or under the effects of alcohol, or veering off marked trails can be fatal. Each ski region has rules which are governed by the local ski resorts. Take care to follow these rules. You can be arrested and detained for unruly behaviour. See
Skiing or snowboarding off-piste, either inside or outside a ski resort's boundaries, is dangerous. Only visit areas that are designated as safe by local authorities. Pack your helmet and protective gear. Many travellers have suffered serious head injuries that could have been prevented by wearing the right equipment.
Avalanches are common and heavy snow storms can create deep powder snow drifts. Be aware of winter weather risks – and consult local information sources such as tourism centres and your hotel and ski resort where appropriate.
It is your responsibility to ensure that your travel insurance policy is comprehensive and covers all your activities. Some general insurance policies may not cover snow sports. Read the fine print and refer to our guide on
Mountain climbing and trekking
Trekking and mountaineering can be dangerous. Every year, a number of people are killed while attempting to climb Japan's highest peak, Mount Fuji. Japanese Emergency Services warn against climbing during the off-season (September-June) which is considered especially dangerous. Australians trekking in the Japanese Alps should follow the safety advice of the Nagano Prefectural Government. Keep in mind that standard travel insurance policies generally exclude dangerous or extreme activities such as mountain climbing.
Australians planning on hiking in Japan should be aware that there has been an increase in bear sightings, and some attacks, in Northern Japan. Pay careful attention to warning notices on hiking trails and follow the advice of local authorities.