Living in Japan

Japanese for Emergency Situations: How to report an emergency and useful phrases

In this post, we describe how to report a fire, accident or medical emergency in Japan and give some basic phrases for communicating with an emergency dispatcher.

In case of fire, accident, or medical emergency: Dial 119

You can dial 119 (fire department/emergency services) or 110 (police) from a cell phone or pay phone.

To call the police: Dial 110

To call from a pay phone in Japan, you do not need to insert coins. Just pick up the phone and press the red emergency button to be connected to emergency dispatch.

From a pay phone, just pick up the receiver and push the emergency button (the red button) to call. You don’t have to insert coins.

What info you should give to the dispatcher

The dispatcher will ask you what kind of emergency it is.

Is it a fire or medical emergency? (kaji desu ka? kyukyu desu ka?) 火事ですか。救急ですか。

What happened? (Dou shimashita ka?) どうしましたか。


There’s a fire! (kaji desu!) 火事です。

There’s been an accident. (kyujyo desu.) 救助です。

There’s a medical emergency (kyu kyu desu.) 救急です。


In case of a fire

If you see a fire break out on the street, warn others by shouting:

There’s a fire! (Kaji da!) (火事だ!)

If a fire occurs at home:

  1. Your number one priority is your safety. Quickly leave the building and stand at a safe distance. Only report the fire once you have safely evacuated.
  2. Let other people in the building know, if you’re able to do so safely. Shout, kaji da!”
  3. If you can safely the extinguish fire without risk to yourself and others, you can attempt to do so with the fire extinguishers equipped in the building. Fire extinguishers in apartment buildings are often stored near the entrance to individual apartments, public corridors, and elevators. You can also use cushions or a heavy sheet to beat the fire.
  4. When you are evacuating, close doors behind you to block off oxygen flow to the fire. Cover your nose and mouth a small or handkerchief to avoid smoke inhalation, and keep low to the ground, if possible.

Reporting a fire

When you are reporting a fire to the dispatcher, give the location and your name and contact number.

  • If you know your address or the address of the location where you are, say the exact address:

My address is ◯◯-ku (or-◯◯shi) ◯◯-cho ◯◯-choume-◯◯-ban ◯◯-go.

(Jyusho wa ◯◯-ku (or-◯◯shi) ◯◯-cho ◯◯-choume-◯◯-ban ◯◯-go.)

(住所は◯◯区・市◯◯町◯◯庁目◯◯番◯◯号)

  • If you don’t know the address, you can indicate nearby landmarks. For example,
  • It’s near ◯◯ station.  (◯◯ eki no chikaku desu.)   ◯◯駅の近くです。

My name is ◯◯. (Watashi no namae wa ◯◯ desu.)  私の名前は◯◯です

My phone number is ◯◯. (Denwa bango wa ◯◯ desu.) 電話番号は◯◯です。

Keep your phone on for about 10 minutes after you call.


Basic phrases for a medical emergency

I’m (Someone is) injured. (Kega wo shite imasu.) ゲガをしています。

Someone is unconscious. (Ishiki fumei desu.) 意識不明です。

Someone has fallen down. (Hito ga ochita.) 人が落ちた。

I’m sick. (Byouki desu.) 病気です。

I’m having difficulty breathing. (Mune ga kurushii desu.) 胸が苦しいです。


To ask someone to call the police or emergency services for you:

Please help me! (Tasukete kudasai.) 助けてください。

Please call an ambulance. (Kyuukyuusha wo yonde kudasai.) 救急車を呼んで下さい。

Please call the police. (Keisatsu wo yonde kudasai.)  警察を呼んで下さい

Please call the fire department. (Shou bou chou wo yonde kudasai.) 消防車を呼んで下さい

Top image: The fire department responds to a fire at a house near Tosu Station, Saga Prefecture. Via Bee on Twitter

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