For Emergency - Methods for Contacting Family Members

Post date: Friday, December 13, 2019

We are deeply sorry for those who are suffering and lost your family members after the earthquake on March 11th, 2011.
Though the damage is catastrophic we are hopeful and remain optimistic that the resilience of the Japanese will pull us through these difficult times.

Photos : The Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake (Mar. 12)

Japan is known as a country with many earthquakes. This kind of disaster could happen in Tokyo.
It is very important to discuss the evacuation methods and measures in case of such event among the family members.

After the earthquake in March 11th, both mobile phones and landlines were unavailable for a while in Tokyo.
We assume many of you have experienced great worries for not being able to get in touch with family members in addition to experiencing difficulties to get home.

Communication Method in case of Earthquakes (for March 11th)

  Level 7 (In Tohoku) Level 5 (Tokyo)
Internet Access X OK
Mobile phone X X It recovered gradually after 5 hours.
Land line X X It recovered gradually after 5 hours.
SMS messages X It recovered gradually after 2 – 3 hours.
Public phone X Free public phones were placed shortly after the earthquake. Outgoing calls were working. However they didn’t reach other parties for a while.

According to TV news, 171 message dial by NTT and other messaging services by mobile phone providers are provided as communication means immediately after the earthquake.
Please view the following information as ways to communicate in case of emergencies.
We’d like to advise you to decide beforehand on the communication method to prioritize among your family members in view of the case noted above.

If You Have Internet Access

1) Message Service from 171 via Website

Disaster Message Board Web 171 is available to look for a person or read/find a message.

2) Google Person Finder

Google Person Finder is also very useful.

Free Wi-Fi 00000JAPAN

00000JAPAN (Five Zeros Japan) is a free wi-fi connection offered when disaster happens. Please read our article Emergency Free Wi-Fi Service 00000JAPAN for further details.

If You Cannot Connect to the Internet

Disaster Emergency Message Dial (171) is a message service provided by NTT. You can leave a voice message under your phone number (account) and listen to the messages. This service is not accessible from mobile phones.  Emergency use public phones are normally provided at evacuation shelters and via the public phone you can use the 171 service. 

Please refer to the Basic Operation Method for Disaster Emergency Message Dial (171) from NTT's websites.

< How to Enter a message (quoted from NTT East's website) >

1) Dial 171
The operation guide message is available in Japanese only.
[Prompt] This is the Disaster Emergency Message Dial Center. To record, please dial 1, to play back, please dial 2, to record using a PIN number, please dial 3, and to play back using a PIN number, please dial 4.
2) Press 1 to enter your phone number
Please make sure to include regional code number such as “03″ for central Tokyo.Enter the telephone number of a person in the disaster-stricken area.
[Prompt] A message for telephone number 0XX-XXXX-XXXX will be recorded. If you are using a touch-tone telephone, please press number 1. If you are using a dial telephone, please wait. If you entered the incorrect telephone number, please hang up and call again. 
3) Enter the phone number 0XX-XXX-XXXX
Enter the telephone number of a person in the disaster-stricken area.
[Prompt] A message for telephone number 0XX-XXXX-XXXX will be recorded. If you are using a touch-tone telephone, please press number 1. If you are using a dial telephone, please wait. If you entered the incorrect telephone number, please hang up and call again.
4) Press 1
5) Record your Message
[Prompt] Please leave a message within 30 seconds after the beep.
6) Press 9
After you finish talking, please press number 9.
[Prompt] The message will now be repeated. To re-record a message, please press number 8.
* The number of storable messages, storage period, etc., per telephone number will vary depending on the conditions of the disaster.


< How to Listen to a message (quoted from NTT East's website)>

1) Dial 171
2) Press 2 or 4 if it's with a personal identification number
Enter the phone number of the person you would like to listen to a message
4) Press 1
Messages from the most recent one will be played. To repeat a message, press 8, to proceed to the next message, press 9.

Other Emergency Message Services

Available on the internet that are provided by mobile phone providers.

Use Newsletter from Embassies Effectively

In case of emergencies, embassies distribute useful information to the registered users.

You can gather updated information and notices and communicate with family members back home smoothly.

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