While Japan was closed to tourism for approximately two years due to the global spread of COVID-19, in June 2022 it reopened its doors to guided tours in limited numbers. In September 2022, Japan began to further relax entry restrictions incrementally. As of writing, an increased number of visitors can move about freely, and restrictions may be further relaxed with the pandemic easing.
While risks related to COVID-19 may have decreased, the possibility of a natural disaster occurring remains. This begs the question, when visitors to Japan are affected by a major disruption, how can they stay connected and gather information to stay safe? Below is a summary of useful links and information for that purpose.
Stay on top of the latest developments
NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), Japan's only public media organization, provides news in English and other languages. The broadcaster also provides a handy collection of links for disaster preparedness.
NHK also offers a smartphone app that enables push notifications on earthquakes and tsunamis in English, Chinese, Portuguese and Vietnamese.
In addition, the Japan Meteorological Agency provides a portal site in English that offers advisories on the weather, tropical cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, as well as real-time risk maps.
Emergency Hotline and WiFi
Visitors to Japan requiring assistance in the case of an emergency can call the Japan Visitor Hotline at 050-3816-2787 (or +81-50-3816-2787 from overseas). Operated by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), the hotline is available 24/7 in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
While visitors can connect to the Internet on their smartphones by roaming on mobile networks, what if a mobile (cellular) network is not accessible due to a disaster-related disruption? In such emergencies, a Free Wi-Fi Connection called “00000JAPAN” (Five Zero Japan) is provided by SoftBank Corp. and the other mobile carriers in Japan free of charge.
00000JAPAN connections can be found where public Wi-Fi spots have been installed by mobile carriers. The spots are normally found at major stations, public and commercial areas such as shopping malls, community centers, cafes, restaurants, airports and convenience stores.
To connect, look for the SSID (Service Set Identifier) “00000JAPAN” in your Wi-Fi setting. Select the “00000JAPAN” network with your device and you will be automatically connected. Since 00000JAPAN is open to everyone without encryption, it’s important to take security precautions to protect your personal information while using the connection. That said, 00000JAPAN could prove to be a valuable lifeline when other methods of communication are unavailable.
More information can be found in this video from the Wireless LAN Business Promotion Association.
Keep friends and family informed
As a means of staying in touch, SoftBank Corp. and other Japan-based carriers provide the Disaster Message Board service in the event of a large-scale disaster, such as an earthquake with a seismic intensity of 6-lower or more. Users can post messages such as “I’m OK” or “Need help” using their mobile phones. Registered phone numbers are also searchable.
Conserve your smartphone battery power
Power outages often occur in the wake of a natural disaster, so conserving your smartphone’s battery life can be crucial when access to electricity is limited. Reducing screen brightness, setting to low power mode, turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, shutting down apps not in use and turning off location services are some ways to extend smartphone battery life. More information is in the article below.
If you plan to visit Japan, we encourage you to explore the above links. In the event of a disaster, staying connected and informed can be a lifesaver.
(Posted on September 13, 2022)
by SoftBank News Editors