Climate Change

Outline and evaluation of briefing session on the Safety Confirmation Process of missing foreign nationals in Japan in case of disasters

September 3, 2014

 On September 2, with Disaster Prevention Week as an opportunity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held the above-mentioned briefing session in the International Conference Room at MOFA (17 foreign diplomatic missions in Tokyo and nine organizations including relevant ministries and agencies and local government-related organizations participated). At the start of the briefing session Hirotaka Ishihara, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, gave an opening address, and then presentations by the organizations were followed. After those presentations, participants exchanged business cards etc. which contributed to cultivate mutual understanding of each organization’s roles and initiatives and to promote cooperation and network building. The outline and evaluation is as follows.

1. Date held:

 Tuesday, September 2 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (at the International Conference Room, MOFA)

2. Participants (in no particular order)

(1) Diplomatic missions in Tokyo (30 individuals from 17 diplomatic missions)
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
Embassy of the Republic of Korea
Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines
Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
Embassy of the United States of America
Embassy of the Republic of Peru
Consulate-General of the Republic of Peru in Nagoya
Royal Thai Embassy
Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia
Her Britannic Majesty’s Embassy
Embassy of Canada
Australian Embassy
Embassy of France
Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Embassy of Italy (as the current EU Presidency)
(2) Relevant ministries and agencies and local government-related organizations etc. (nine organizations: 33 individuals and MOFA officials)
National Police Agency, Ministry of Justice, MOFA, Council of Local Authorities for International Relations, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo Fire Department, Metropolitan Police Department, Chiyoda City, Minato City

3. Outline and evaluation

  • (1) Where the confirmation of the safety of foreign nationals in Japan is concerned, at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Foreign Nationals’ Affairs Division in the Consular Affairs Bureau at MOFA, in cooperation with relevant agencies and ministries etc. engaged in and supported tasks such as responding to inquiries from embassies in Tokyo etc. about the safety of foreign nationals in Japan and confirming their safety. At this briefing session, explanations were provided on the processes and transmission of information relating to confirming the safety of foreign nationals at the time of a large-scale disaster, and in addition, respective initiatives were explained with the cooperation of relevant agencies and ministries such as the National Police Agency and the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice, as well as from local government-related organizations that are engaged in disaster responses and prevention on a daily basis such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Tokyo Fire Department, and their respective initiatives were explained.
  • (2) Based on the importance of mutual understanding and cooperation under normal circumstances, the briefing session was also held with the goal of creating networks between the relevant parties, and as a result the diplomatic missions that took part overall appreciated the event as meaningful for enabling them to secure an extremely good understanding of the relevant organizations’ disaster prevention initiatives. Additionally, a number of diplomatic missions that were unable to attend also asked to be sent the materials used at the briefing session, reflecting diplomatic missions’ strong attention to disaster prevention.
  • (3) In confusing circumstances large amounts of information become entangled (the representative hypothetical example would be a major earthquake directly beneath Tokyo), and with regard to inquiries from diplomatic missions on the safety of their nationals at the time of disasters, it is necessary to make preparations during normal times in order to be able to promptly function as a point of contact capable of being a “one-stop shop.” The briefing session served as an opportunity to reaffirm the need to reconfirm and share the contact information and transmission methods of the diplomatic missions’ citizens’ welfare departments and the relevant organizations (participants pointed out that there are a large number of organizations carrying out various initiatives in Japan, but it can be difficult to know where to make inquiries).