Diplomatic Bluebook 2017

Chapter 4

Japan's Diplomacy Open to the Public

Section 2 Supporting Japanese Nationals Overseas


(Risks and Safety of Japanese Nationals abroad)

In July, the terrorist attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh, occurred, claiming seven Japanese lives and injuring one. The risk of large-scale terrorist attacks is now spreading from the Middle East and Africa to Europe, the U.S. and Asia. Besides these attacks, the risk of ordinary crimes and infectious diseases that are unfamiliar in Japan exists worldwide. Approximately 16 million Japanese nationals travel abroad annually (2016), while approximately 1.32 million Japanese nationals lived overseas as of October 2015. Securing the safety of Japanese nationals overseas and promoting their interests is one of the most important missions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

In light of the terrorist attack in Dhaka, MOFA reviewed the recommendations from the “Task Force on Bolstering Safety Measures for Japanese Nationals Overseas,” issued in 2015, and published a report in August 2016 indicating measures that should be further strengthened. The report addressed the recognition of concerns over trends where the risk of terrorism is spreading to Europe, the U.S. and Asia and is geared toward “soft targets” such as stations and shopping malls where large numbers of people congregate. In view of this, MOFA is engaged in efforts to further strengthen safety measures in order to prevent Japanese nationals from being harmed by terrorism based on the recognition that the following perspectives are important: (1) enhancing the awareness of safety measures and response capabilities of each and every person; (2) delivering timely, appropriate and effective information to the people; and (3) establishing a structure to securely implement them. In September 2016, it was decided to strengthen the International Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Collection Unit, which had been newly established in December 2015. The Unit collects information that serves the interests of the Prime Minister's Office on international terrorism. The collected information is promptly provided to the Prime Minister's Office and the related ministries and agencies, where it is utilized for assessing situation and making policy decisions, including in the area of consular services for the safety of Japanese nationals overseas.

In addition to terrorism, there are risks of falling victim to robbery, other crimes and troubles, political disturbance, natural disasters, and infectious diseases such as the Zika virus disease, which has been spreading across Latin America, parts of the U.S. and Southeast Asia. When traveling or staying overseas, it is very important for each and every person to have strong safety awareness, collect information and take the necessary safety measures. MOFA is calling on people to use the MOFA “Overseas Travel Registration (“Tabi-Regi”)” and the Overseas Safety Website, through which it issues relevant information.

MOFA also endeavors to protect the safety of Japanese nationals and promote 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.