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U.S. Dept. of State
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Welcome to the October 2008 newsletter!

Here are the topics for this month

Information for Voters

Other topics


Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures

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

Columbus Day Oct. 13 (Monday)
Culture Day Nov. 3 (Monday)
Veterans' Day Nov. 11 (Tuesday)
Labor Thanksgiving Day (Japanese) Nov. 24 (Monday)
Thanksgiving Day Nov. 27 (Thursday)

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

Security reminder: While there is no specific threat information aimed at Americans at this time, it is prudent for you and your family to review your personal security profile and to be aware of your surroundings at all times.

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 Travel Warnings for the following countries:

Israel, the West Bank and Gaza 09/26/2008

Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.

The U.S. Department of State also has issued one new Travel Alert:

Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf09/10/2008

Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions, generally within a particular country or region, that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert. This and other information regarding travel abroad is available at http://travel.state.gov.

The most up-to-date information regarding permitted and prohibited items on flights can be viewed online here.

For additional information, please visit "Americans Traveling Abroad" on the U.S. Department of State website. Students traveling abroad may wish to visit the State Department site designed for them: http://studentsabroad .state.gov/. To obtain up-to-date information on security conditions, please call 1-888-407-4747 (toll free in the United States), or +1-202-501-4444 if you are outside the United States.

Register to Vote by October 4

U.S. citizens should register to vote now for the November 4, 2008, presidential and general elections. Many states close voter registration on October 4, 2008, which is 30 days before the general election. Be sure to allow sufficient time for your voting registration forms to reach the U.S. by mail.

Voters who have not yet registered to vote and requested an absentee ballot should complete a Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) on the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website at www.fvap.gov. Voters may also pick up a hard copy of the FPCA from any U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate.

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

FPCAs may be mailed to your local voting officials in the U.S. through the regular international mail or from any U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Some states also accept FPCAs by fax or e-mail.

For more information, review our webpage about absentee voting.

Mailing Your Ballot (Int’l Mail, APO, FedEx, Drop-off at Embassy)

Voters in Japan have a number of options for mailing Federal Postcard Applications, voted state ballots, and Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots to their local election officials in the United States. Mailing addresses for local election officials and state mailing deadlines can be found in the Voting Assistance Guide, available online at www.fvap.gov.