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Japan 2017 Crime & Safety Report: Naha

East Asia & Pacific > Japan; East Asia & Pacific > Japan > Okinawa

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Consulate Naha does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or establishment and assumes no responsibility for the quality of services provided.

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Naha as being a low-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government officials.

Please review OSAC’s Japan-specific webpage proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

Even though Japan’s national crime rate is well below the U.S. national average, Okinawa does experience crime. Pickpocketing and other petty crimes occasionally take place in crowded shopping areas, bars/nightclubs, and airports.

Japan has strict laws regarding the use and possession of dangerous weapons. Carrying a pocket knife (including Swiss Army-style knife), craft, hunting knife, or box cutter in public is illegal.

Violent crime is rare but does exist. Although firearms are prohibited, licenses may be issued for hunting rifles. As a result, rifles, knives, and illegal pistols are sometimes used in violent crimes.

Yakuza elements exist in Okinawa, but they are generally not considered a threat to tourists or the public.

Cybersecurity Issues

Cybercrime is an emerging problem, but it is not yet a paramount concern.

Other Areas of Concern

Okinawa does not have any neighborhoods that are considered high-crime areas or dangerous for foreigners. 

In the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011, the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor experienced a core meltdown, releasing radioactive material. The government of Japan restricts public access to areas around the reactor, including a 20-kilometer exclusion zone around the plant. For more details, reference the Fukushima Prefecture’s official website or the Japan National Tourism website, which provides information on radiation dosage throughout the country.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Japan is a left-hand traffic country. Road conditions and road safety standards meet or exceed U.S. standards except in the most remote areas/islands. Roads are well-maintained and well-lighted. Side roads are often quite narrow compared to U.S. standards, and street names are often not marked, presenting a challenge to drivers. Drivers are advised to be aware of motor scooters on the roads as their operators frequently weave in/out of traffic and disregard traffic laws. Vehicle accidents may still occur, and accidents involving pedestrians are common. Traffic enforcement involves the extensive use of cameras.

Local police note drunk driving as a safety concern. Driving with any measurable alcohol in one’s system is illegal.

Public Transportation Conditions

The public transportation system in Japan is generally logical and safe. The rail system in Naha is limited to one monorail that primarily traverses the downtown area.

Terrorism Threat

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Naha as being a low-threat location for terrorist activity directed at or affecting official government interests.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There are no known indigenous terrorist organizations in Japan, and the country is not a known base of support or sympathy for terrorists. While Japan has not experienced any terrorist incidents in the last decade, all visitors should be familiar with the contents of the Department of State’s Worldwide Caution. This statement expresses the Department’s concern about continued threat of attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against American citizens and American interests abroad.

Anti-American/Anti-Western Sentiment

Most anti-American demonstrations in 2016 targeted U.S. military bases on Okinawa and not the U.S. Consulate in Naha. Demonstrators commonly protest against the American military presence on Japanese soil, the construction of an airfield in the Henoko area, and the deployment of the V-22 Osprey aircraft. Recent events have increased the level of protests across the island, and there remain daily protests at Marine Corps Air Base Futenma in the Ginowan district. These demonstrations are typically peaceful and orderly.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Naha as being a LOW-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Civil Unrest

Violent demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience are very rare. Most protests are peaceful and require organizers to submit a government application so that an official permit can be granted. The police closely monitor demonstrations and inform RSO regarding planned protests.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Japan is in the “Ring of Fire,” a region that experiences routine seismic activity. The 2011 9.0 earthquake in Tohoku resulted in a tsunami that caused widespread damage to coastal cities and the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor. Coastal cities remain susceptible to tsunamis, which stem from earthquakes centered in the ocean. A tsunami can arrive on shore within minutes and can cause widespread destruction of property and loss of life.

Okinawa is also in a particularly active typhoon region, and large typhoons have been known to close businesses and cause damage each year. For more information, see the Japan Meteorological Service’s Typhoon tracker and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

All U.S. citizens should have an emergency plan for earthquakes and tsunamis.

Japan has made great advances in building, railway, and road construction that minimizes collateral damage from environmental hazards in the metropolitan areas.

Critical Infrastructure

The government continues to monitor the conditions at/around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. People considering travel to affected areas in Fukushima Prefecture should monitor current estimates on expected levels of radiation and follow recommendations for reducing exposure to radiation in these areas.  

Privacy Concerns

There are very strict privacy laws governing the release of personal information.

Personal Identity Concerns

Hate crimes rarely occur, though some U.S. citizens have reported being the target of comments or actions because of their race, ethnicity, or nationality.

Drug-related Crimes

Illegal drugs (methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, synthetic drugs) are present, but drug-related violence remains rare.

Visitors should be aware that pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter medication in the U.S., is illegal. Prescription medications containing amphetamine or other stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin) are illegal. Possession of these and other illegal medications is a crime. For more information, please refer to OSAC’s Report, “Traveling with Medications.”

Police Response

Police are well trained and can be counted on to provide travelers with assistance. English-speaking police officers are not as common in Naha as they are in Tokyo. The quality of interpreting from Japanese to English can vary, and this has caused difficulties for some American victims.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

U.S. Embassy Tokyo’s American Citizen Services provides assistance to American citizens.

Crime Victim Assistance

The police emergency number is 110, and the response is generally very dependable.

When compared to the U.S., some report that police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a victim’s concerns, particularly in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, or when the victim and the perpetrator are foreigners. Investigations of sexual assault are often conducted without a female police officer present, and the police typically inquire about the victim’s sexual history and previous relationships. Few victim assistance resources or battered women’s shelters exist in major urban areas and the services are generally unavailable in rural areas.

Police/Security Agencies

The National Police Agency, Prefectural Police Department, City Police, and Police Kobans (substations) comprise Japan’s police system.

The National Police Agency is responsible for the administration of police services. Prefectural Police Departments maintain a regional responsibility. The City Police provide police services at a more local level.

The Koban (Police Boxes) are the most typical point of interaction for visitors with the Japanese police. The Kobans are located throughout Naha and are staffed by one or more police officers 24-hours, seven days a week.

Medical Emergencies

The countrywide emergency number for fire and ambulance service is 119. This number may not work from cell phones, and English-speaking dispatchers may not be available.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Consult the Embassy’s American Citizen Services webpage for information on English-speaking medical facilities.

Insurance Guidance

Travelers should verify the validity of their medical insurance prior to personal travel. Japanese medical providers typically will not accept foreign medical insurance. Travelers should confirm coverage in Japan with their insurance companies before traveling.

Medical caregivers require full payment at the time of treatment or proof of the ability to pay before treating a foreigner who is not a member of the Japanese national health insurance plan.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Japan.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is not an active OSAC Country Council in Naha. The OSAC Tokyo Country Council is active and generally meets on a monthly basis. Please contact OSAC’s East Asia Pacific team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Tokyo or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs. The Regional Security Officer in Tokyo can be reached at 03-3224-5000 (within Japan) and at 81-3-3224-5000 (outside Japan), or by email.

U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information

Consulate Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Consulate General Naha
2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe City
Okinawa, Japan 901-2104

American Citizens Services (ACS) offers services by appointment Mon-Thur, 0800-1130 and 1330-1500 (except U.S. and Japanese holidays).

Consulate Contact Numbers

Central Switchboard: (098) 876-4211
The Regional Security Officer for Naha is resident in Tokyo.

Consular coverage for multi-post countries

Consulate Naha provides assistance to Americans in Okinawa and the Amami Oshima Island group (which is the southern island group of Kagoshima Prefecture).

Nearby Posts

Embassy Tokyo: 

Consulate Osaka/Kobe: 

Consulate Naha/Okinawa: 

Consulate Sapporo:  

Consulate Fukuoka: 

Consulate Nagoya: 

Additional Resources

Japan Country Information Sheet