Japan Travel Advice & Safety

Japan Travel Advice & Safety

You will be bound by all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear severe by Australian standards. Research local laws before traveling.

If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do everything in its power to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can’t get you out of trouble or out of jail.

For more information on arrests in Japan, see the Australian Embassy in Tokyo website.

Note that if you are arrested in Japan, you will not be allowed to make phone calls.


If authorities find trace amounts of illegal drugs in your blood or urine, they may charge you.

More information:

House rules

Japanese family law, including divorce and child custody, is very different from Australian law. For example, joint custody of children after divorce is not a legal option, and noncustodial parents have limited access. Family courts in Japan generally hold that it is in the children’s best interests to keep them in their “ordinary place of residence”. For this reason, courts usually grant sole custody to the parent who recently cared for the child.

If you are involved in custody or other family disputes, consult a lawyer before leaving Australia or already in Japan. We have produced some general information on issues such as custody, child abduction and parental rights.

Both Australia and Japan are parties to the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

If you are concerned that your child has been wrongly removed or detained in Japan, please contact the Australian Attorney General’s Department.

More information:

labor law

Some employment agencies mislead and encourage foreigners to work in Japan, but do not:

  • correct visa
  • Financial arrangements in place

This could leave you vulnerable to exploitation.

Authorities have arrested Australians working in the entertainment industry in Japan on tourist visas.

If you want to work in Japan:

  • Check the true nature of the job offered
  • Get the correct visa before arriving in Japan
  • Get legal advice before signing any contract

More information:

police power

The police can stop you on the street, ask for identification and search you and your belongings.

If you are in a public place, the police can seize:

  • Knives over 5.5 cm in length, including blades and pocket knives
  • firearms
  • any other weapon or something you can use as a weapon
  • drug
  • Anything they have reason to suspect that you have stolen or illegally possessed

If they find any of these items on you, the police will most likely detain you.

If you are arrested, the police can detain you for up to 23 days without charge. This includes offenses you might consider minor. The police may detain you for weeks or months as they investigate and initiate legal proceedings.

The initial police questioning may last several hours. Police may record in writing rather than electronically.

Under Japanese law, you can:

  • remain silent
  • Access legal representation
  • Provide an interpreter

However, the police can question you without your lawyer present.

English interpreters may not be qualified. Get a list of English-speaking lawyers across Japan from the Australian Embassy website.

other laws

If you are staying for a maximum of 90 days, you must always carry your passport.

If you live in Japan, you must carry your residence card with you.

The following actions are illegal:

  • Buy or drink if you are under 20
  • driving with any alcohol in the blood
  • Allowing a person under the influence of alcohol to drive a vehicle in which you are a passenger

These activities are also illegal:

  • Import or possess a firearm or other weapon without a license.
  • Smoking on the streets in some parts of Tokyo and other cities.
  • Use of UHF-CB radios (walkie-talkies) that do not conform to Japanese standards, such as those purchased outside of Japan.
  • Resisting arrest or otherwise obstructing an officer in the performance of his or her duties.
  • Drones are flown without permission in many areas of Japan. The new aviation law applies strict regulations: http://www.mlit.go.jp/en/koku/uas.html
  • Has illegal drugs in the body (tested by urine).
  • Drink on the street on certain days, like Halloween and New Year’s Eve around Shibuya.


Penalties for serious crimes such as murder include the death penalty.

Other sentences can include:

  • heavy penalty
  • long prison terms and hard labor
  • deport

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