How do I make an emergency call in Japan?

Japan data

Society December 16, 2023

In Japan, emergency calls are always free, even from a public payphone. It is even possible to call these emergency numbers from a locked cell phone.

For the police, dial 110 and for the fire department and ambulance, dial 119. Calls are free, even from a public payphone. It is also possible to call these numbers from a locked smartphone. Tap Emergency (緊急 in Japanese) to call someone else’s smartphone.

According to a nationwide study by the childcare service Baby Job of 441 parents of young children, 86.6% of them knew that it was possible to make an emergency call from a locked smartphone.

People who know how to make an emergency call using their smartphone

It is also possible to call 119 or 110 from a public telephone. First, press the red button next to the keyboard. On newer phones the red button has disappeared. It is also not necessary to bring in change or phone cards.

It turned out that 28.6% of parents surveyed did not know that it was possible to make emergency calls from a public telephone. By age group, this proportion is 38.3% among young people in their 20s. This is no surprise as this generation has always been familiar with smartphones and therefore had very few opportunities or even the need to use a public telephone.

People who do not know how to call 119 from a public telephone

The widespread use of smartphones has led to a significant decline in the number of public telephones. At the end of March 2022, there were 108,000 remaining across Japan. These valuable phones allow you to make a call in the event of a disaster or emergency situation. You should know that they can be used even when the lines are busy and that, unlike individual phones, there are no restrictions on their use. Furthermore, they have priority. They also work in the event of a power outage. Therefore, residents of Japan are recommended to know the location of the nearest public telephone and how to use it.

(Cover photo: Pixta)

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