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JAPAN - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Japan.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Fukushima nuclear power plant and surrounding area (see Advisory)
Following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi power plant nuclear incident, the Japanese authorities have placed restrictions, including travel and overnight stay bans, on the plant’s surrounding area due to the risk of exposure to radiation. Always follow the instructions of local authorities.
Map of the affected areas (on page 3)
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula
Tensions on the neighbouring Korean Peninsula could escalate with little notice and the security situation could deteriorate suddenly. Tensions may increase before, during and after North Korean nuclear and missile tests, or as the result of military exercises and activities. North Korean test missiles recently flew over parts of northern Japan. Monitor developments, remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities, including guidance on civil protection available on the Cabinet Secretariat Civil Protection Portal’s website. We strongly recommend that Canadians register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive the latest updates.
While crime against foreigners is generally low, you should always exercise normal security precautions. Be particularly cautious in all entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan.
If you are victim of a crime, file a police report at the station closest to where the crime occurred. Occasionally, local police may be hesitant to prepare a report for foreigners. If this happens, contact the embassy for assistance.
Spiked food and drinks
Drink spiking, where drugs or very strong alcohol, causing loss of consciousness, are mixed into the drinks of unsuspecting patrons by staff or other customers, occurs at bars and nightclubs. The motive of drink spiking is typically to defraud, overcharge, rob or assault, primarily male victims. Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers.
Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
There have been incidents of fraud, including overcharging at bars and clubs. Disputes over overcharging have led to incidents of violence. If possible, avoid carrying credit cards when frequenting nightclubs in any entertainment district as people paying with credit cards are often targeted.
Learn more about overseas fraud.
Inappropriate touching may occur in busy subways and trains during morning and evening commuting hours.
Consult our safe-travel guide for women for more travel safety information.
Travel by road is generally safe, but roads may be narrow and are occasionally shared by cars, cyclists and pedestrians.
If you travel by taxi, have your destination written in Japanese as drivers may not understand English.
Travel by subway and train systems is quick and convenient. Signs are usually in Japanese but signage in English is becoming more common, especially in larger cities and at tourist destinations.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Learn more about foreign domestic airlines.
General safety information
Emergency information and advice for tourists is available from the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Japanese authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Japan, which must be valid for the expected duration of their stay in that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
If you plan to travel to other countries in the region, check passport validity requirements for the countries you plan to visit. Many countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected departure from that country. Canadians travelling onward from Japan to other Asian destinations have been denied boarding due to insufficient validity on their passports.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to a maximum of 90 days
Business visa: Required
Work visa: Required
Student visa: Required
You cannot apply for a visa if you have already entered Japan as a tourist.
Business travellers need a visa if they are to receive compensation in addition to their regular salary for work carried out while in Japan.
Overstaying the 90-day, tourist visa-free limit or any other visa time limit is a criminal offence. If you overstay, you may be subject to fines, deportation and may be barred from re-entry to Japan.
Learn about laws that apply to work in Japan
Other entry requirements
Along with your passport and any required visas to visit Japan, you must have:
- an onward or return ticket
- confirmed accommodation arrangements
- proof of sufficient funds for your stay in the country
Japanese officials will photograph and fingerprint all visitors upon arrival. Some exceptions may apply, including for children under the age of 16, individuals with special permanent residency and diplomats on assignment to Japan (and holding a Japanese diplomatic visa). For more information, consult the Immigration Bureau of Japan.
Japanese regulations require that visiting foreigners give detailed information when checking in at hotels or other lodging facilities. The required information includes:
- your name
- passport number
Foreigners must also allow their passports to be photocopied.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world.
Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
- Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some areas of this country.
- It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
- It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or when you consume unpasteurized milk products.
- Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks during outdoor activities.
- A vaccine against TBE does exist but is only available in countries where the disease is present.
- Learn more on what you can do to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)?
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in East Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Eastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that mainly affects infants and children. Travellers are at increased risk if visiting or living in overcrowded conditions. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against this disease.
Medical services and facilities
Medical care in Japan is good. The cost of services may be similar or slightly more expensive than in Canada. Foreign patients are often required to pay in advance or produce documentation to prove that the bill will be paid prior to discharge. Make sure you have travel insurance that covers all medical expenses, including hospitalization abroad and medical evacuation, in case of illness or injury.
Canadians working in Japan who are not covered for medical and health services by their Japanese employer must carry full medical coverage for their stay by subscribing to the national health insurance scheme.
If you need to consult medical professionals, the following organizations can refer you to medical facilities with English and other foreign language-speaking staff:
- Japan National Tourism Organization
- Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Centre
- AMDA International Medical Information Center
Learn more about laws on prescription medication.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You must carry your passport or residency (zairyu) card at all times. Police officers in Japan have the authority to ask for your identification documents at any time. Failure to comply could lead to detention or arrest.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Japan. However, a person who acquires two or more citizenships at birth can keep all citizenships (including Japanese citizenship) until the age of 20. At that age, a person has 2 years to decide to renounce all other citizenships or renounce Japanese citizenship.
If local authorities consider you a Japanese citizen, you may be refused access to Canadian consular officials.
Learn more about travelling as a dual citizen.
Penalties for criminal activities, particularly for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs, are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.
In many cases, suspects are denied oral or written communication with anyone other than their lawyer or a Canadian consular representative for an extended period. If you are detained, even for a minor offence, you may be held without charge for up to 23 days. Police officers may begin their initial questioning before you see a lawyer. You could also be in detention for weeks or months during the investigation and legal proceedings.
Traffic drives on the left.
To drive in Japan, you need an International Driving Permit along with your Canadian licence, or a Japanese driver’s licence. You must also obtain Japanese insurance.
There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Penalties are strict and can include lengthy jail sentences. Local laws extend to both the driver and the passengers (for allowing someone to drive while under the influence of alcohol); both are subject to prosecution.
The importation of certain over-the-counter and prescription medications used to relieve sinus and allergy symptoms is banned or severely restricted. Some examples include:
You may bring a one-month supply of prescription medication or a two-month supply of non-prescription medication into Japan, providing the medication does not contain narcotics (including codeine).
Prescribed medication must be accompanied by a doctor’s prescription that states the patient’s full name, address, reason for use and dosage. The bearer of the medication may be requested to present a detailed listing of the contents of the medication. If you wish to bring in larger supplies of medication or bring in prescription medication that contains narcotics, you must apply in advance for import certification. Application should be made several months prior to arrival. Consult the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for more information.
Working in Japan
Working without an appropriate visa is illegal; if caught, offenders may be subject to imprisonment, a fine and deportation. If you are considering employment offers in Japan, contact the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa or the Japanese consulate nearest you before your departure from Canada.
You should carefully review contracts to teach English (arranged by recruiters in Canada) before you sign. Ensure that all terms and conditions of employment are clearly stated in the contract and that you meet all requirements before accepting an offer. There have been incidents of employers not adhering to their contractual obligations. Consult our Teaching English in Japan publication for more information.
The currency is the yen (JPY).
Traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at major banks and some hotels. Credit cards are accepted in most major hotels and restaurants; however, Japan remains a predominantly cash-based society. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are widely available, but many do not accept foreign debit cards. ABMs at some convenience stores and Japan post offices accept most foreign issued debit and credit cards. Some ABMs may not be available 24 hours a day or on weekends and holidays.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Japan is in an active seismic zone and is prone to strong earthquakes, as well as tsunamis. Be prepared and know what to do in the event of an earthquake.
There are a number of active volcanoes. The Japan Meteorological Agency lists active volcanoes and associated warnings. If you are travelling near a volcano, check for the latest activity and warnings and always follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
Typhoons usually occur between June and October. Southern areas, including Okinawa and surrounding islands, are more vulnerable. These storms can result in flooding and landslides, significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and can hamper the provision of essential services.
Consult Typhoons and monsoons for more information.
Snowstorms occur in western Honshu and Hokkaido from December to March. Avalanches can occur in mountainous areas, including ski resorts. These can cause power disruptions, make roads impassable and limit the ability of responders to reach these areas in case of emergency.
The Japan Meteorological Agency provides information on weather conditions, typhoons, volcanic warnings, earthquakes and tsunami warnings.
The Japan National Tourism Organization also provides information in case of natural disasters.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 110
- medical assistance: 119
- firefighters: 119
Tokyo - Embassy of Canada
Fukuoka - Consulate of Canada
Hiroshima - Consulate of Canada
Nagoya - Consulate of Canada
Osaka - Consulate of Canada
Sapporo - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Tokyo and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
When calling from within Japan, the area code is preceded by a 0. There is no 0 when calling from outside Japan. You do not need to dial the area code if placing the call to a cellular phone.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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