The U.S. State Department, which issues visas abroad, issues U.S. passports and looks after the safety of U.S. citizens overseas, has a lot of useful information following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan as well as the nuclear radiation situation that is evolving. Here are some useful sites and contact information:
U.S. Citizens in Japan
Contact Information for the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo:
For calls from within the U.S. 1-888-407-4747 For calls from outside the U.S. 1-202-501-4444 For concerns about a specific U.S. citizen in Japan, email: JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov
The State Department also has Twitter and Facebook accounts to follow.
Travelers to Japan should check the U.S. Embassy Tokyo website often for “Travel Warnings” and “Warden Messages” as well as any other news. Americans who sign up for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) can receive constant updates from the U.S. Embassy. This is especially important for newly arriving humanitarian relief workers and family members, assuming you are in an area to receive digital information. Task Force Alert is a complimentary program that operates during a crisis to keep families informed. Travelers or their family members can register, provide biographic information, upload a photo, provide emergency contact information and any other special needs of the person traveling.
The State Department has also posted “Options for Travel out of Japan”. This should be checked frequently due to the fluid situation in Japan right now.
Non-Citizens needing U.S. Visa Services
At the moment, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo (including consular posts) is focused on assisting U.S. citizens. There is limited visa service for non-U.S. citizens seeking to come to the U.S. Applicants/potential applicants should check the Embassy website regularly for updates as to visa types being issued and hours of operation. Priority is being given to work visa applicants and students. For example, the U.S. consulate in Osaka is asking visa applicants to reschedule their appointments.
For U.S. visa inquiries related to departure from Japan to the United States, email firstname.lastname@example.org or consult the U.S. Consulate web pages for Tokyo, Osaka, Narita and others. (Right now, except for Osaka, they all refer back to the Embassy in Tokyo for operations status.)
The U.S. Embassy is again another place to keep posted on radiation issues. Just today, the U.S. Embassy published this announcement:
March 20 – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Health Precaution related to the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and radiation release in Japan. On the same topic, CDC issued Health Information for Expatriates and Students Living in Japan and also Health Information for Humanitarian Aid Workers. Each of the announcements highlight the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommendation that all Americans within 50 miles of the Fukushima reactors should evacuate the area.