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Welcome to U.S. Embassy Tokyo's ACS Newsletter for September 2008!


Here are the topics for this month

Services




Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures


The Embassy and Consulates will be closed for the following days:

Labor Day Sept. 1 (Monday)
Respect for the Aged Day Sept. 15 (Monday)
Columbus Day Oct. 13 (Monday)
Culture Day Nov. 3 (Monday)
Veterans’ Day Nov. 11 (Tuesday)


Please remember that the days just before and just after a holiday are often extremely busy and you can expect significantly longer waiting times. If you visit us outside of these times, you should have a shorter wait.

A full list of all of our holiday closings is online here. American citizens who require emergency assistance during holidays should contact the office serving their part of Japan.

If you do come to see us at the Embassy in Tokyo, note that we have two lines to enter the building; a (usually) longer line for visa applicants and a much shorter line for customers coming for American Citizen Services help. Check the signs by the Embassy entrance, which will direct you to the appropriate line. We use a computerized customer ticketing system; upon entering the Consular section, you can select the type of service you require (e.g. Passport, Notary, etc.) and wait in the ACS Waiting Room for your number to be called.

Occasionally, the U.S. Department of State experiences a worldwide credit card outage; please be prepared to pay any fees in cash if necessary.

To view the business hours for the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and all of the U.S. Consulates in Japan, check this page.



Security Situation – New Worldwide Caution issued July 16, 2008

On July 16, 2008, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Worldwide Caution Public Announcement. It supersedes the Worldwide Caution dated January 17, 2008. Please view the full text online here.

Since our previous ACS Newsletter for August 2008, the U.S. Department of State has issued five new Travel Warnings for the following countries:

The U.S. Department of State also has issued one new Travel Alert for the following country:

You can always read the most current information online here.

For additional information, please visit "Americans Traveling Abroad" on the U.S. Department of State website. To obtain up-to-date information on security conditions, call 1-888-407-4747 (toll free in the United States), or 1-202-501-4444 if you are in Canada or outside the United States.



Sat. Aug. 30 - Embassy Tokyo’s Friendship Day Celebration

Join in the fun! U.S. Embassy Tokyo is pleased to announce that we will host a Community Friendship Day Celebration on Saturday, August 30, 2008 from 11 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. with musical performances by the U.S. Army Band and other rock bands as well. The event will be held at our housing compound (location information on ticket; no parking available). There will also be numerous performances (Taiko, Magicians, a Parade) and activities including a children’s games corner, dunk tank, bouncy castle, and more. The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit will also have information regarding registering to vote in the November 4, 2008, U.S. General Election - look for our table!

Call our Public Ticket and Event Information Hotline at 03-3224-5501 for information about how to purchase tickets (1,000 yen each, and children under 5 are free). Ticket price includes entrance and free beverages (water, soda, and beer) throughout the afternoon. Hamburgers and hotdogs will be sold during the event.

Please note that photo identification will be required for anyone over 15 to enter the compound; also, pets are not allowed on the compound. Strollers and bags will be searched. If it appears that a typhoon may hit Tokyo on August 30, 2008, the event will be rescheduled for September 6, 2008.



Information for Voters for the Nov. 4, 2008 General Election

Have You Registered to Vote and Requested your Absentee Ballot?

Do you want to vote in the upcoming General Election? To vote absentee as a Uniformed Service member, family member, or an overseas citizen, NOW is the time to register and request an absentee ballot for the November 4, 2008 election. To register and request an absentee ballot, just fill out the Voter Registration/Ballot Request Form (Federal Post Card Application, FPCA, SF 76) and send it to your local election office.

To fill out the Voter Registration/ Ballot Request Form, go to www.fvap.gov. The site has state-specific instructions for all 55 states and territories covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). You will find detailed and easy-to-follow instructions for filling out your Voter Registration/Ballot Request Form, along with information on where to send it.

Be Prepared for Late State Primaries and the General Election!

While the Presidential Primaries have ended, many states still hold state primaries late in the season. In these primaries, you can vote for your party's candidates for Federal offices, such as Senators and members of the House of Representatives. You may also be able to vote for state and local election officials.

Louisiana holds its congressional primary on October 4, 2008 and is just one of 18 states and territories holding late summer primaries. Due to these elections close proximity to the General Election, problems could potentially arise in getting military and overseas citizens their ballots in time for the General Election. States and territories with late primaries include: Alaska, Arizona, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Virgin Islands, Vermont, Wisconsin, Washington, and Wyoming.

Voter Registration & Requesting an Absentee Ballot

Voters who have not yet registered to vote and requested an absentee ballot should do so now using the FVAP website. You may also pick up a hard copy of the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) from any U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

You should also complete a new Federal Postcard Application if you have moved or changed your name since the last time you voted.

Voting

Your local voting officials should mail your absentee ballot 30 to 45 days before the November 4 general election. Return your voted ballot as early as possible. Be aware of your state’s ballot receipt deadline, as well as any postmarking requirements.

Emergency Ballots

The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) serves as an emergency ballot for voters who registered in time but fail to receive an official ballot from local election officials. You can access the FWAB using www.fvap.gov as well.

Questions

The Voting Assistance Officers at U.S. Embassy Tokyo are also always available to answer questions about absentee voting. To contact the Voting Assistance Officer, call 03-3224-5000 or send an e-mail to VOTETOKYO@state.gov



Register Online for Nov 2008 Foreign Service Officer Test

The U.S. Foreign Service is a career like no other; every day U.S. Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) represent the United States to the world, promoting peace, stability and prosperity. We welcome your interest in this challenging, unique work where you can be involved in the important issues of the world, where you can contribute, and make a difference.

The Guide to the Foreign Service Officer Selection Process (PDF - 263KB) is provided for informational purposes only and contains information regarding registration for the test, sample test and essay questions, testing for individuals with disabilities, how to prepare for the test, as well as explanations of the different career tracks and life in the Foreign Service.

The next U.S. Foreign Service Officer Test will be offered at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on November 6-7, 2008. Please note the following deadlines:

Sept. 24Seat scheduling for the November test begins for candidates who have completed their Registration Package.
Oct. 23
11:59 p.m. (U.S. Central Standard Time)
Deadline for candidates intending to test overseas to submit a completed Registration Package.
Oct. 27
11:59 p.m. (U.S. Central Standard Time)
Deadline for candidates intending to test overseas to schedule a test seat.
Oct. 29
11:59 p.m. (U.S. Central Standard Time)
Deadline for candidates intending to test in the U.S. to submit a completed Registration Package.

For more information, visit this website.



FVAP’s 2008 Post-Election Survey

Please be aware that you may be contacted by the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) as they are conducting the 2008 Post-Election Survey of uniformed services personnel, local election officials, voting assistance officers, and official and private American citizens overseas. The survey results will be reported to Congress and the White House.

The first surveys will be sent at the end of October as notification of selection. The survey itself will be sent out on or around November 5 and will include survey instructions, a link to the online survey, and an individual access code. All e-mails sent to selected survey participants will come from votinginfo@state.gov. Americans who have difficulty completing the online survey may request a paper version be mailed to them.

If you want to participate in the FVAP Post-Election Survey, you must be registered with the Embassy via the U.S. Department of State’s Internet Based Registration System (IBRS). For information about IBRS, visit this website.



All about “ESTA” (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system that will assist in determining eligibility for foreigners to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of an ESTA application, a VWP traveler will be notified of his or her eligibility to travel to the United States under the VWP. For more information about the VWP, visit this website.

Effective January 12, 2009, all nationals or citizens of VWP countries who plan to travel to the United States for temporary business or pleasure under the VWP will be required to receive an authorization through ESTA prior to boarding a U.S.-bound airplane or vessel. Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, will be required to obtain an independent ESTA approval. A third party, such as a relative or travel agent, will be permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler.

ESTA will be implemented as a mandatory program for all VWP travelers 60 days after publication of a notice in the Federal Register. DHS anticipates that the Secretary of Homeland Security will issue that notice in November 2008, with ESTA becoming mandatory for all VWP travelers on January 12, 2009. Beginning August 1, 2008, the system became available in English only to process voluntary applications. By mid-October, 2008, the system will be available in a variety of languages to facilitate the voluntary application process for the overwhelming majority of VWP travelers.

NOTE: though the information and questions on the ESTA Web site will be translated into different languages, the ESTA application must be completed in English.

For more information about ESTA, visit this website.



Adopting? Japan Does Not Have a Child Abuse Registry

Prospective adopting parents who are current or former residents of Japan and are adopting children from countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) need to be aware that Japan does not have a child abuse registry.

The Hague Adoption Convention went into effect in the U.S. in April 2008. Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention; however, U.S. citizens who are adopting children from Hague countries (including China and the Philippines) need a child abuse registry check from every country where they have been a resident. If you are living in Japan or used to live in Japan, you may be asked during the adoption process to get a “child abuse registry check” from Japan; however, Japan does not have such a registry and you must inform the person requesting the check about this fact.

For more information on adoptions, please visit this State Department web page.



College Students – Apply for a State Dept. Summer 2009 Internship

What could a student internship mean to you at the U.S. Department of State? It's an opportunity for you to get an inside look at the different types of positions and responsibilities available in foreign affairs. You can also gain valuable work experience that will help you in virtually every endeavor, whether you choose to work in government or in the private sector.

At the U.S. Department of State, we like to say we're the face of America to the world. As an intern, you will be, too. Some of our students work in Washington, DC, and others have the opportunity to work at an embassy overseas. Positions are both paid and unpaid, and many are available during spring, summer or fall.

U.S. citizens who are still in college and have completed at least 60 credit hours may apply for a Summer 2009 internship.

The application deadline is November 1, 2008. Visit this website for details.

NOTE: The registration process opens during the beginning of September 2008. In the meantime, sign up to receive email notifications by clicking the email update icon on the webpage.



Ask the Consul: "What is the new U.S. Passport Card?"

An American citizen residing in Tokyo with her family recently inquired about the new U.S. Passport Card.

The U.S. Department of State produces the new U.S. Passport Card, which is a convenient, wallet-sized document (similar to a driver’s license in size and shape) to be used for re-entry into the U.S. at land-border crossings and sea ports of entry for U.S. citizens arriving from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

The U.S. Passport Card is being issued in response to the needs of U.S. border resident communities. The card has the same period of validity as a passport book: ten years for adults, five years for children 15 and younger. Adults who already have a full-validity U.S. Passport Book may apply for the U.S. Passport Card as a passport renewal and pay only $20. First-time applicants pay $45 for adult cards and $35 for children.

Please note that the U.S. Passport Card cannot be used for international air travel. Otherwise, it carries the rights and privileges of the U.S. Passport Book and is adjudicated to the exact same standards.

Additional information about the U.S. Passport Card is available on this Web page.



Energy Saving Ideas



Leaving Japan?

If you are departing from Japan after a long stay here, and you formally registered your stay with the Embassy or closest U.S. consulate, please be sure to "cancel" your registration when you leave.

You can deregister yourself by visiting the travelregistration.state.gov site.

You may also want to consider unsubscribing from the newsletter mailing list. Please see the instructions on how to accomplish this below.



How to Unsubscribe

We make every attempt to include in our newsletter information of real value. We know that should world events dictate, we can use this e-mail channel to get important information to you, as we did in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

If you are leaving Japan or otherwise wish to unsubscribe from this list you can unsubscribe by writing from the same email address you used to subscribe, and send a blank e-mail to:

leave-tokyoacs@mh.databack.com

If you need to receive these newsletters at a different email address, unsubscribe first, using the old address, and subscribe again from the new address.



Contact us:

American Embassy in Tokyo
American Citizen Services
1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
Tel: 03-3224-5174
Fax: 03-3224-5856
http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/tacs-main.html

The Embassy helps Americans in Tokyo, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata and Yamanashi.

American Consulate General Sapporo
American Citizen Services
Kita 1-jo, Nishi 28-chome
Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821
Tel: 011-641-1115
Fax: 011-643-1283

The Consulate in Sapporo helps Americans in Akita, Aomori, Hokkaido, Iwate and Miyagi. As there are times when both officers are away from the office, we ask that you make an appointment before coming to the Consulate General.

American Consulate Nagoya
Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor
1-47-1 Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001
TEL (052) 581-4501
FAX (052) 581-3190

Consulate Nagoya provides emergency consular services including death and arrest cases for Americans living in Aichi, Gifu, and Mie prefectures. Please call Nagoya or Osaka for confirmation before traveling to Nagoya if you believe you have an emergency situation. Routine American Citizen services are provided by appointment only. If an appointment is not available, American residents may also receive service at the Consulate in Osaka.

American Consulate General Osaka-Kobe
American Citizen Services
11-5, Nishitenma 2-chome
Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543
Tel: 06-6315-5912
Fax: 06-6315-5914

The Consulate in Osaka helps Americans in Osaka, Aichi, Ehime, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kagawa, Kochi, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Shimane, Shiga, Tokushima, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama.

American Consulate Fukuoka
American Citizen Services
5-26, Ohori 2-chome
Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052
Tel: 092-751-9331
Fax: 092-713-9222

The Consulate in Fukuoka helps Americans in Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga and Yamaguchi.

American Consulate General Naha
2-1-1 Toyama,
Urasoe City
Okinawa 901-2104
Phone: 098.876.4211
Fax: 098.876.4243
DSN: 645-7323

The Consulate in Naha helps Americans in Okinawa and the Amami Oshima Island group (which is the southern island group of Kagoshima Prefecture).

Travel, safety and security information is also available directly from the Department of State.


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