Diplomatic Bluebook 2016

Chapter 4

Japan’s Diplomacy Open to the Public

Section 2 Supporting Japanese Nationals Overseas


(Risks and Safety of Japanese Nationals abroad)

Approximately 16.21 million Japanese nationals traveled abroad in 2015, while approximately 1.29 million Japanese nationals were living overseas as of October 2014. As more Japanese nationals travel and live overseas, the risk of Japanese nationals being involved in incidents or accidents, or facing terrorism, riots, or natural disasters abroad has been increasing. The safety for Japanese nationals overseas is one of the important missions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

In 2015, terrorist incidents occurred where Japanese nationals were victims, including the terrorist incident regarding the murder of Japanese in Syria and the terrorist gun attack in Tunisia. Moreover, ISIL listed Japanese people and interests as target of terrorist attack in its bulletin. Furthermore, Islamic extremist groups and individuals motivated by opinions of such groups have committed terrorism not only in the Middle East and North Africa but also in various places all over the world, including a series of terror attacks in Paris. The threat of terrorism against Japan is real.

Under these circumstances, it is a crucial task for the Government of Japan to make every possible effort to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals, companies and other interests overseas. In May, following the terrorist incident regarding the murder of Japanese in Syria, the “Task Force on Bolstering Safety Measures for Japanese Nationals Overseas” published recommendations. The recommendations show the basic recognition that (1) Japanese nationals will not only be involved in terrorist attack but also be a target of such attack, (2) not only Japanese nationals living abroad but also Japanese travelers abroad can encounter terrorist attacks, and (3) terrorism occurs not only in the Middle East and North Africa but also anywhere in the world including developed countries. The Government of Japan works on the enhancement of safety measures focusing on the improvement of consular structure, the safety of the Japanese Schools and gathering and disseminating of information.

As part of such efforts, MOFA launched the MOFA “Overseas Travel Registration” (“Tabi-Regi”) on July 1, 2014 and is calling for registration. The “Overseas Travel Registration” is one of the important measures to assure the safety of Japanese Travelers. This new service aims to provide registered users with the latest travel safety information of their place of stay, and confirm their safety in the event of an emergency. For this purpose, short-stay (less than three months) travelers, who are not required to submit an Overseas Residential Registration, such as tourists and business travelers, are invited to register their travel itineraries, including their place of stay and contact number through the system.

In 2015, the end of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in West Africa was declared, but in the Middle East, human infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) continues, and Zika virus is spreading in Latin America and other areas. In addition, large-scale natural disasters such as the major earthquake in Nepal in April 2015 occurred. Furthermore, the security situation outside Japan is not as good as inside Japan. Japanese nationals may be victims of various crimes such as theft and other trouble. Japanese nationals overseas must be careful, collect the safety information and take measures for assuring their safety in advance.

(Smooth Implementation of Consular Service)

Furthermore, MOFA endeavors to protect the safety of Japanese nationals and further their interests. Efforts to this end include issuing passports and various types of certificates, as well as accepting notifications concerning nationality and family registers, and handling overseas voting.

MOFA, as the “Central Authority” for the implementation of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague Convention), provides assistance to realize the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed across borders, and/or to realize visitation or contact with children across borders.