English Language Customer Service Helplines in Japan

English Language Customer Service Helplines in Japan

Many people move to Japan with the laudable goal of learning Japanese and one of the best ways to improve is of course to speak the language at every opportunity. However, when faced with emergency situations or urgent matters where quick, clear, and simple communication is essential, you may need to be able to speak in English. Fortunately, customer service helplines offering service in English have increased in Japan in recent years. The following article explains what different English-language helplines are available in Japan, depending on the nature of your inquiry.

Emergency Telephone Numbers in Japan

If you are faced with an emergency in Japan, you should immediately pick up your phone and call for help. Emergency services are generally excellent in Japan with well-trained and professional personnel who respond promptly when called.

Emergency Numbers in Japan
Police

110 (emergency number)

03-3503-8484 (non-emergency situations, English)

24 hours

Mon-Fri 8:30-17:15

Fire 119 (say “kaji desu” if there is a fire) 24 hours
Ambulance 119 (say “kyuu kyuu desu” if you have a medical emergency and need an ambulance). 24 hours
Tokyo Gas (gas leaks) 0570-002299 (Navi Dial) 24 hours
TEPCO (power outages) 0120-995-002 toll-free (*check the number for your local area) 9:00-17:00 (closed on holidays)
Tokyo Bureau of Waterworks (water leaks, etc.) 03-5326-1101 (*check the number for your local area) Hours vary.
Emergency road service (Japanese Automobile Federation, JAF) #8139 or 0570-00-8139. Free interpreting services available. 24 hours

Depending on your location and the operator who picks up the phone, it may be difficult to communicate in English. Handing off the phone to a Japanese speaker may be your most efficient option, but if your only option is to speak in English, try to speak slowly and clearly so that the operator can do their best to assist you or find someone who can. If you want to learn some basic Japanese phrases useful in emergency situations, Selectra Japan has a guide on their “Emergency Numbers in Japan” page.

Other options in emergency situations… If you are caught without your mobile phone, Japan still has a considerable number of public pay phones, especially around train stations and convenience stores. You can call emergency services free of charge using a public telephone. You need to press the red button near the base of the phone (for green phones; gray phones don’t have this button) and dial 110 or 119.

Another option is the local kōban police box (交番) if you know its location and it is close by. The police in the kōban will be more than willing to help and can contact other emergency services if necessary. Police at kōban also have very detailed maps if you are lost (for many years, before smartphones and Google Maps, it was very common practice in Japan to ask for directions at the local kōban!)

English Helpline Numbers in Japan - General Information and Assistance

If you are an English speaker in Japan and struggling to find the right number to call for the issue you are facing, there are several helplines in the country offering general assistance to foreigners, so these can be a good place to start.

Toll-free numbers in Japan Numbers that begin with 0120 are toll-free numbers. These numbers can be called free of charge from anywhere within Japan (they cannot be called from outside Japan). Emergency numbers such as 119 and 110 are also toll-free.
For other numbers, call charges will apply.

Your local ward or city may also have assistance available for English speakers which might be more convenient if you need to speak to someone in person (or if you require local information), so you can check with your local authorities or contact one of the helplines below for information on which services are available near you.

Healthcare Helplines for English Speakers

General Assistance Helplines for English Speakers
Foreign Residents Support Center (FRESC) 0120-76-2029 (toll-free)

03-5363-3013 (IP phones or overseas)

9:00-17:00 (Mon-Fri, except holidays) Offers a wide range of support services for foreign residents. Available in 11 different languages.
Tokyo Multilingual Consultation Navi 03-6258-1227 Mon-Fri: 10am- 4pm Offers general service to foreign residents. Available in different languages.
Yorisoi Hotline 0120-279-338 (toll-free) Check their website (different every day) Offers general service to foreign residents. Available in different languages.
Japan Visitor Hotline 050-3816-2787 24 hours, year round Support for emergencies, information on natural disasters, general tourist information.
The Japan Helpline 0570-000-911 24 hours, year round Can help with emergencies as well as everyday concerns. Non-profit.

English Helpline Numbers in Japan - Healthcare

The Japanese healthcare system is partially subsidized by the government for those who have Japanese Health Insurance, meaning that patients pay only a nominal fee (this varies depending on the particular provider and the nature of the treatment involved) for each visit to a clinic or hospital. 70% of the cost of most pharmaceuticals is subsidized as well.

Most healthcare for young children (with Japanese Health Insurance) is fully subsidized in Japan, including most immunizations and pharmaceutical prescriptions.

Most dental procedures are also subsidized in Japan (for those with Japanese Health Insurance).

If you need a doctor or dentist in Japan…

  • You may visit any clinic or hospital (most people go to smaller clinics except for emergencies or after referrals)
  • Make sure to check operating hours (online)
  • Be sure to bring your Japanese Health Insurance Card and cash (some facilities do no accept credit cards)
  • Be aware that there are no GPs (general practitioners) in Japan. Clinics are specialized (ear-nose-throat, dermatology, etc.) so you should search for the right type of clinic before you go.
  • Be aware that reservation systems vary from facility to facility (some online, some walk-in, some by telephone)
  • Be aware that prescriptions from other countries are not accepted in Japan; you will need to receive a prescription from a doctor in Japan.

Travel Insurance

If you will be traveling in Japan or living in Japan for a short period of time without Japanese Health Insurance, make sure that you will be covered by a travel insurance provider, or you will have to pay all fees yourself.

Healthcare Helplines for English Speakers
General Healthcare Information

*Call centers vary by region. Check the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare’s website (English) to find the right number for your region (and check reception hours)

03-6258-1227 - Tokyo Multilingual Consultation Navi (General Information Helpline)

03-5285-8181 - Himawari Medical Service (9:00-20:00) - medical translation and referrals

COVID-19

0120-565-653 (toll free)

0120-761-770 - Vaccine Information: (Toll Free)

Sexually Transmitted Infections (HIV/etc.) 03-3369-7110 - Shinjuku Health Center (Tokyo)

*More information available on Stonewall Japan’s website

Counseling/Mental Health

03-5774-0992 - FIND (Federation of Inochi no Denwa) - suicide prevention (9:00-23:00)

0120-565-455 (toll free) - Kokoro no Mimi - mental health support, particularly related to overwork (17:00-22:00 Mon/Tue. 10:00-16:00 Sat/Sun, except holidays)

03-5774-0992 - TELL (Tokyo English Lifeline) - mental health and crisis support

You can also check the International Mental Health Professionals Japan website if you require ongoing therapy.

Because healthcare providers can be chosen freely in Japan and thus vary in terms of quality, service, and price, it can be a good idea to ask around for recommendations from friends, colleagues, or neighbors when searching for a new doctor or dentist.

English Helpline Numbers in Japan - Utilities

When moving to Japan or relocating within Japan, setting up electric, gas, water, and telephone/internet service will be among your first priorities. Below are some numbers to call that will help you get these important jobs done (in English).

Electricity

Your main option for electricity will be the major provider in your area (e.g. TEPCO if you live in Tokyo or the surrounding Kanto region). The telephone number to call will differ depending on where you live and the nature of your inquiry. You can check the call center numbers (and reception hours) for TEPCO here. Numbers are generally toll-free. Service in English is available in principle, though connecting you with an English operator may take longer, depending on how busy the system is.

These days, there are also many alternative providers that can help you with your energy needs, such as Hinatao Energy. You can contact Selectra Japan toll-free on 0120-013-605 for full assistance (in English) with finding the best (and cheapest) electricity plan for you.

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Gas

Your main option for gas will be the major provider in your area (e.g. TOKYO GAS if you live in Tokyo or the surrounding Kanto region). The telephone number to call will differ depending on where you live and the nature of your inquiry. You can check the call center numbers (and reception hours) for TOKYO GAS here. Numbers are generally toll-free. Service in English is available in principle, though connecting you with an English operator may take longer, depending on how busy the system is.

These days, however, there are many alternative providers such as Hinatao Energy that can help you with your energy needs. You can contact Selectra Japan toll-free on 0120-013-605 for full assistance (in English) with finding the best (and cheapest) gas contract for you.

電話で電気・ガス切替相談

Our English-speaking advisers will help you compare, subscribe and save on your energy

 

  • Free - Our services are free to customers!
  • All in English - No more language barrier!

About us

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  • Free - Our services are free to customers!
  • All in English - No more language barrier!


About us


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電話で電気・ガス切替相談

Our English-speaking advisers will help you compare, subscribe and save on your energy


Just leave your telephone number, we will call you!
Free callback service

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Water

Your water provider is solely based on where you live in Japan, unlike gas and electricity (the energy markets were deregulated in Japan in 2016, breaking the monopolies of the major gas and electricity providers to give customers more choice). All you need to do is sign up with your local water provider.

In Tokyo, you should call 03-5326-1100 (23 wards) or 03-3344-2531 (outside the 23 wards) if you are moving and need to stop/start your water supply. You can also download a form to submit via the mail or complete an online application. Note that the number for water-related emergencies and other inquiries is different: 03-5326-1101.

Phone numbers and procedures vary by prefecture/region, so if you live outside Tokyo, be sure to check with your local waterworks department.

Mobile Phone/Internet Service

Mobile phone service and internet service can also be broadly divided into traditional major providers (au, docomo, SoftBank) and newer alternative providers. For more information, you can check out Selectra Japan’s page on Applying for SIM Cards and Mobile Service in Japan or on Internet options in Japan for visitors or new residents (SIM cards, Broadband, Pocket Wi-Fi). These pages explain which providers have service in English and also discuss price, convenience, contract length, and other relevant factors.

You can also contact Selectra Japan toll-free on 0120-013-605 for full assistance (in English) with finding the best mobile phone and internet contracts for you.

English Helpline Numbers in Japan - Travel and Transportation

These days, most people use apps on their phones or devices to navigate Japanese trains, buses, and ferries (yes, Japan has lots of ferries!). The level of detail is quite impressive, with some apps even suggesting which train cars to select in order to make transfers easier and quicker.

There are still, however, a few phone numbers that could be useful to you as you try to find your way around Japan.

Phone numbers - Travel and Transportation
Japan Railways (JR) East 050-2016-1603 10:00-20:00, except year-end holidays Information on trains running through the eastern part of Japan (other train companies around Japan vary, some accept telephone inquiries, others do not).
Tokyo Metro 0120-104106 (toll-free) 9:00-20:00 Information on the Tokyo Metro subway.
Tokyo Municipal Subway (TOEI) 03-3816-5700 Mon-Sat: 9:30-20:00 Information on the TOEI Metro subway lines.
JTB (Japan Tourist Bureau) 03-5796-5454 Mon-Sat: 9:30-20:00 Major Japanese travel agency for domestic travel reservations.
Tokyo Tourist Information Center 03-5770-5131 10:00-17:00, except Jan. 1 Handles general tourist inquiries.
Japan Visitor Hotline 050-3816-2787 24 hours, year round Support for emergencies, information on natural disasters, general tourist information.
Japan Rail Pass* Only online Responds to inquiries via email For purchasing JR passes*.

*only available to non-residents of Japan.

Because Japanese transportation services are so varied (and complicated), the best approach, rather than calling on the telephone, is usually to search for the specific service that you want online or to contact more general tourist information centers who can point you in the right direction.

Lost something in Japan? Don’t give up!

Foreign visitors and residents are often shocked by how often lost property is recovered in Japan. While there are no guarantees, of course, theft is relatively rare in Japan and lost items are very often found. Lost property systems are very rigorous and thorough, both on transportation and around cities and towns. If you lose something, even just an umbrella or your PASMO train card, you stand a good chance of getting it back if you follow the correct procedures.

If you lose something on public transportation such as a train, the best approach is usually to go straight back to the station where you got off the train. Many stations have a small Lost Property office (if there isn’t one at that station, there will be one somewhere else, so ask the station staff where you need to go). There is a computer system that logs lost property which staff can check to see if your item has been found (try to give as much information as you can about what you have lost, when, which train, etc.). If you are unable to return to the station, there are phone numbers that you can call, some of which offer assistance in English:

  • JR East Lost and Found - 050-2016-1603 (10:00-18:00, except New Year’s holidays)
  • Tokyo Metro Lost and Found - 03-5227-5741 (9:00-20:00)
  • Haneda Airport Lost and Found - 03-5757-8107 (9:00-20:00)
  • Narita Airport Lost and Found - 0476-34-8000 (24 hours)
  • TOEI Subway Lost and Found - 03-3816-5700 (9:00-20:00)

If you lose something around town, your best option is usually to visit the local kōban police box (交番) or, if in Tokyo, call the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Lost and Found on 03-3814-4151 (Mon.-Fri. 8:30-17:15).

If you believe your bicycle has been stolen, you should first check if it has been removed for illegal parking (check the spot where you left it for a piece of paper with a map to the local bicycle confiscation facility). You will need to pay a fine to get your bicycle back (you can avoid this by using approved bicycle parking lots (駐輪場, chūrinjō). If this is not the case, report the theft/loss to your local kōban police box (交番) and there is a decent chance they may find it, especially if you have previously registered your bicycle (a good idea!). Bicycle theft in Japan is low in comparison to other countries, but occasionally does occur.

English Helpline Numbers in Japan - Banking and Legal Advice

Even for foreign residents who have lived in Japan for many years and are relatively fluent in Japanese, areas of life such as banking and Japanese law can be very challenging to deal with. Here are a few options for receiving support in English.

Banking

Not all Japanese banks and financial institutions offer service in English or other languages, so you may wish to shop around for one (such as PRESTIA SMBC Trust Bank) that does.

Legal Advice

If you find yourself in need of legal advice in Japan, there are many firms that can provide assistance in English (some even offer a free initial consultation with a lawyer).

Phone numbers - Legal Advice
Foreigners' Rights Advisory Center (FRAC) 03-5320-7744 Mon-Fri 9:30-12:00, 13:00-17:00 Provides general legal guidance. You can also make a reservation (by phone) for a free legal consultation in English, either on the phone or in person at their Shinjuku office.
Japan Legal Support Center (Hoterasu) 0570-078377 Mon-Fri 9:00-17:00 Provides advice in English on the Japanese legal system across a wide variety of situations.
Yorisoi Hotline 0120-279-338 (toll-free) Check their website (different every day) Offers general service to foreign residents. Can advise on labor and Human Rights issues.
Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau 03-3821-9070 Mon-Fri 9:00-17:00 General inquiries about Japanese taxes.
Police English Call Center 03-3503-8484 Mon-Fri 8:30-17:15 Non-emergency police inquiries.

Translation

Do you require documents to be translated from Japanese into another language or vice versa? If so, you should check with the relevant authorities what they require (i.e. notarized translations, Ministry stamps, etc.) well in advance. A translation from a friend or colleague will not be sufficient for many official purposes, even if the translation is very simple. Instead, you should contact a professional translation agency (such as JOHO Translation, 050-1743-6555), which can usually handle getting your documents notarized and endorsed for you as well.

English Helpline Numbers in Japan - EARTHQUAKE!

It is common knowledge that Japan experiences more than its fair share of natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, flooding, typhoons, occasional Godzilla incursions). Experiencing your first earthquake or typhoon can be quite a disconcerting experience if you come from a country or region where such events do not occur.

Be prepared!

hen moving into a new area, be sure to familiarize yourself with local emergency arrangements such as evacuation procedures and assembly points (these are often local schools or other institutions with large outdoor areas).

Fortunately, Japan’s long experience with natural disasters means that the country is among the best prepared in the world to deal with such events.

Below are some helpful resources if you find yourself caught up in a natural disaster in Japan.

Helpful resources - Natural disaster
Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) The JMA website has information in English on weather, earthquakes, and other natural disasters
InterFM Radio 76.1 Information via your radio in English on natural disasters
J-Alert This system sends out automatic alerts to smartphones and televisions to warn of natural disasters and other major emergencies.
Dial “171” An automated service that allows you to record a message after a natural disaster and let your loved ones know that you are okay (as they may not be able to get through to you).
Japan Visitor Hotline - 050-3816-2787 Support for emergencies and emergency information on natural disasters for tourists (as well as general tourist information).
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