A Japanese Police Car

How to make an emergency call in Japan – “110” Police –

It is important to know how to make emergency calls in Japan, whether you are a resident or a tourist. There are two main types of emergency calls: 110 (Police) and 119 (Fire department & Ambulance).

About 119 (Fire department & Ambulance), you can jump to the article below:
How to make an emergency call in Japan – “119” Fire Department / Ambulance / Rescue –

Hotline 110 (Police)

A Japanese Police Car

When to call “110”?

If you are involved in an accident or a criminal incident or witness them, call 110 immediately.

If it’s not an “emergency” but you still would like to contact the police station, call #9110 (Police Advisory Service for non-emergency). This will connect you to your nearest prefectural police headquarters. Also, you can call 03-3503-8484 (Only For Foreigners Number of The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department General Advisory Center). 

How to call “110”?

From your smartphone:

  1. Open Phone app
  2. Press “110” and call

*Please be aware that you may not be able to make a call from a smartphone purchased overseas. In such cases, look for a public phone, borrow a phone from someone nearby, or ask the staff at a station or any commercial facility to call 110.

From public phone (light green one): 

A Japanese Public Phone
  1. Lift the receiver
  2. Press the red “SOS (emergency call)” button (next to the pictures of emergency vehicles)
  3. Dial “110” (*No area code is required. Just 110.) 

*No need for coins or telephone cards for emergency calls. 
*Please note that some public phones do not have an SOS button. You can just dial 110.

Available language

English is supported in most areas of Japan. In recent years, more and more regions are supporting other languages as well. It is a good idea to check if your language is supported first.

*There is no guarantee that first responders will also speak English or other languages than Japanese.

What information should you give to 110 operators?

You should give the information below. Don’t worry. 110 operators will ask you one by one. All you need to do is remain calm and answer the questions.

  • What happened?
    • An accident or a criminal incident?
      – “It’s a hit-and-run accident.”
      • Accident (Jiko / じこ / 事故)
      • Car accident (Koutsuu jiko / こうつうじこ / 交通事故)
      • Hit-and-run accident (Hikinige / ひきにげ / ひき逃げ)
      • Purse snatcher (Hittakuri / ひったくり)
      • Thief (Dorobou / どろぼう / 泥棒)
      • Being followed (Tsukimatoi / つきまとい)
      • Homicide (Satsujin / さつじん / 殺人)
  • Are you a victim or a witness?
    – “I’m a witness.”
  • When did it happen?
    – “About 2 minutes ago.”
  • Where did it happen? And where are you?
    – “It happened at Higashi intersection. I’m making a phone call from the pedestrian bridge.”
    • You can get your location from the address written on a utility pole or the name written on a traffic light at an intersection. You can also tell them what you see (for example, a park, a store, a school). If there’s no landmark around you, you can just tell them where you start your trip and where you are heading (For example, “I got off at Nippon station and headed to Nippon shrine using the route Google maps suggested. I walked about 1km for 20minutes”). And make sure to turn on your location service on your phone before you call.
    • If you call from a public phone, they will know where you are calling from.
  • Did you see the culprit? (Or a license plate number?) In which direction did s/he flee? By what?
    – “I didn’t see the driver, but I saw the car. It was a red Toyota XXX. The license plate number was XX-XX. The car drove away in the direction of the station.”
  • Are there any injured people? Can you describe the scene?
    – “A man on a bicycle has injured his leg and it seems to be bleeding.”
  • Please tell me your name, address, and phone number.
    – “I’m Mark Edwards. My address is 1-2-3, Higashi, Nishi City, Tokyo. XXX-XXX-XXXX.”

Useful Japanese words to communicate with first responders

  • “Here!” –  “Koko desu!” (ここです!)
  • “I called (the police).” – “Watashi ga denwa shimashita.” (わたしがでんわしました / 私が電話しました)
  • Accident
    • “There’s someone injured.” – “Keganin ga imasu.” (けがにんがいます / けが人が居ます)
    • “The culprit fled in that direction.” – “Hannin wa achira ni nigemashita.” (はんにんはあちらににげました / 犯人はあちらに逃げました)
  • Criminal incident
    • “I was robbed after withdrawing money from an ATM.” – “ATM de okane wo oroshita ato ni nusumaremashita.” (ATMでおかねをおろしたあとにぬすまれました / ATMでお金をおろした後に盗まれました)
    • “Cash and jewelry were stolen.” – “Genkin to houseki ga nusumaremashita.” (げんきんとほうせきがぬすまれました / 現金と宝石が盗まれました)
    • “I noticed that the key had been broken.” – “Kagi ga kowasareteirukoto ni ki ga tsukimashita.” (かぎがこわされていることにきがつきました / 鍵が壊されていることに気がつきました)
  • Describing the details
    • “man” – “Otoko” (おとこ / 男)
    • “woman” – “Onna” (おんな / 女)
    • “tall” – “Se ga takai” (せがたかい / 背が高い)
    • “short” – “Se ga chiisai” (せがちいさい / 背が小さい)
    • “fat” – “Futotteiru” (ふとっている / 太っている)
    • “thin” – “Yaseteiru” (やせている / 痩せている)
    • “long hair” – “Kami ga nagai” (かみがながい / 髪が長い)
    • “short hair” – “Kami ga mijikai” (かみがみじかい / 髪が短い)
    • “bald” – “Hageteiru” (はげている)
    • “glasses” – “Megane” (めがね / 眼鏡)
    • “moustache / beard” – “Hige” (ひげ / 髭)

Japan is said to be one of the safest countries, but incidents and accidents still happen. Just in case, keep in mind the flow and vocabulary introduced in this article. If you have some words you’d like to know how to say in Japanese, please leave a comment.
Stay safe!