119 in Japan is a direct-dial free emergency number that connects the caller to fire and emergency medical services from any phone. Unlike emergency number services in many other countries, the 119 system in Japan only connects to fire or ambulance services. Police are called using a separate, but similar emergency number, 110. Dialing either from a landline will automatically locate your position.
Operators proficient in English and other foreign languages are available in Tokyo, but outside of Tokyo you should not expect foreign language assistance when dialing for police or fire. Even outside of Tokyo, you may be able to get assistance if you speak very simply in English, but it is highly recommended that you know at least some basic vocabulary items in Japanese or keep this cheat sheet near your phone at home; because if they do not speak any English, they do not speak any English and you still need help.
Ask a Neighbor / Passerby to Call for Help
Describing Your Emergency
To get Emergency Assistance by phone in Japan Speak simply and clearly, in Japanese if possible, and explain:
Sample Phone Call to 119
This is neither precise or exhaustive. It is designed to help you get a basic idea of what is required.
|119:||SHOU BOU CHOU… KAJI DESU KA? KYUU KYUU DESU KA?(Fire department… Fire or ambulance?)|
|Caller:||KYUU KYUU DESU. (Ambulance)KAJI DESU (Fire)|
|119:||DOU SHIMASHITA KA? (What happened?)|
|Caller:||(see “Describing Your Emergency” below)|
|119:||JUSHO HA DOCHIRADESUKA? (What is the address?) – AND / OR –|
|119:||NANI KU, NANI CHO, NANCHO ME, NAN BAN, NAN GO DESUKA?(Please give the ward (or city) name first, then town name and banchi number.)|
|Caller:||NAGOYA, NAKA KU, MARUNOUCHI, 3-1-7-6 8F MARUNOUCHI BUILDING(see “Giving Your Address” below)|
|119:||NAGOYA, NAKA KU, MARUNOUCH, 3-1-7-6 8F MARUNOUCHI BUILDING
(They will likely repeat your address)
|119:||ONAMAE HA (What is your name)|
|Caller:||YOUR NAME DESU|
|119:||DENWA BANGO O OSHIETE KUDASAI ( What is your phone number)|
Giving Your Address
The emergency operator needs to know how to find you to send help. “Land line” phones will automatically give them an address, but cellular phones will not, and the operator is very likely to confirm the automatically generated one. Regardless of why, you should know your address and if possible how to give directions to your house in some semblance of Japanese. To begin with:
The ENGLISH address of the H&R Group in Tokyo is:
2F EXOS Ebisu 1-24-14 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0013 Japan
Giving this address will confuse the emergency operator. They are looking for the address in the JAPANESE style, which is reversed from English.
Japan 150-0013 Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Ebisu 1-24-14, 2F EXOS Ebisu
We hope this, admittedly very basic, guide will give you some idea of how to call for Emergency Assistance in Japan.