Here are the topics for this month
Information for Voters
- Register to Vote by October 4
- Mailing Your Ballot
(Int'l Mail, APO, FedEx, Drop off at Embassy)
- State Ballot Return Deadlines
- Virginia Voting Information
- Louisiana Delays Congressional Election due to Hurricane
- Coverage of 2008 Presidential Debates Available to Citizens Abroad
- FWAP’s 2008 Post-Election Survey
- Ask the Consul: "When Will My Ballot Arrive?"
- Register Online for the November 2008 U.S. Foreign Service Officer Test
- All About "ESTA" (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)
- Adopting? Japan Does NOT Have a Child Abuse Registry
- College Students – Apply for US State Dept. Summer Internship by Nov. 1
- Consumer Alerts
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.
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 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 Gulf||09/10/2008|
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.
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.
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.
- International Mail: You may mail your Federal Postcard Application or voted ballot to the United States through the Japanese mail system, with appropriate international postage. Mail to the U.S. takes ten to fourteen days.
- APO Military Mail: Ballots must be potage-paid or should have first class U.S. postage (42 cents). APO mail to the United States takes 10-15 days. Voters from states that require ballots to be returned on or before election day should submit their ballots to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate no later than the following dates for APO mail:
Fukuoka by Oct. 14 Naha by Oct. 24 Osaka by Oct. 14 Sapporo by Oct. 24 Tokyo by Oct. 24
- Express Courier: Last-minute voters can use express courier services such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL to send their voted ballots to all states and territories except Alabama. Express courier companies cannot deliver to post office boxes, so you will need to know the street address of your local voting official in the United States. Mail sent by express courier companies is not postmarked. Contact information for some local express courier companies follows:
- FedEx - www.fedex.com - 0120-00-3200 (toll-free)
Until October 29, FedEx will ship voted ballots from Japan to the U.S. for free. A FedEx Air Waybill must be filled out by the sender and addressed directly to local voting officials. It is available online here.
You may drop off your ballot with your completed FedEx Air Waybill at the Embassy in Tokyo or the Consulates in Fukuoka, Nagoya and Osaka. (Note: FedEx is not available at the Consulates in Naha and Sapporo.)
You may also drop your ballot off at FedEx offices in Japan (Please see here for locations.
Please note: You may drop off your ballot at FedEx World Service Centers and FedEx Stations only. You cannot use FedEx Drop Boxes, FedEx Kinko’s, and FedEx Authorized Ship Centers.
Other Couriers:State Ballot Return Deadlines
A list of General Election Deadlines for Overseas Citizens and Military stationed in the U.S. and abroad is available online here.
An alphabetized list is available on this online page.
Please be aware of states with postmark deadlines.Virginia Voting Information
According to the Virginia Board of Elections, "Virginia allows the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) to be used as an absentee ballot application and as a back-up ballot, if the voter is currently registered and otherwise meets the qualifications to use the FWAB. It is important to note that for the FWAB to be considered as an application and as a back –up ballot, the completed, signed, and witnessed FWAB must be received by Thursday, October 30, 2008. The voter must sign and include his printed name, the city or county where he is registered, the residence address at which he is registered to vote and his current military or overseas address. The witness must include their signature and address on the witness signature line or the ballot may not be counted."Louisiana Delays Congressional Election due to Hurricane
Louisiana postponed the September 6 Congressional election to October 4. Four congressional districts are holding elections: the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th (to find your Congressional district go to www.house.gov). Military and overseas citizens should return voted ballots by October 4.
The 2nd and 4th districts have more than 2 candidates on the ballot and may require a run-off election. If neither a Democrat nor Republican receives 50% of the vote, a run-off election will be held on November 4 and the general election for congressional offices will be held on December 6.
Citizens are encouraged to vote and send their voted ballot no matter how late they receive it, as long as it is returned to the Registrar of Voters by Election Day.
Please note that Louisiana allows for the blank ballot to be sent by fax and for the voted ballot to be returned by fax.
Additional information on elections in Louisiana can be found on the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website, and special instructions for military and overseas citizens can be found on the website as well. Candidate names for all elections can be found with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Candidate Database.
Questions regarding the above may also be referred to the Director, Federal Voting Assistance Program, Department of Defense, 1155 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1155 or through email: email@example.com. Visit the FVAP website at www.fvap.gov.Coverage of 2008 Presidential Debates Available to Citizens Abroad
The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) has joined with the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) to make the 2008 election debates more vavluable to Americans abroad. DebateWatch is the CPD's nonpartisan, international program that brings U.S. citizens together to watch and discuss this fall's presidential and vice presidential debates.
All across the world, citizens will meet in schools, libraries, theaters, hotels, civic auditoriums, homes, and elsewhere to watch the debates on television or the Internet, or listen to them on the radio. At the end of each debate and before commentary begins, the facilitator will turn off the broadcast and lead participants in a discussion about the debate, the candidates, and the upcoming election.
After finishing their discussion, participants may log on to the CPD's website, www.debates.org to fill out a voluntary survey and provide feedback to the CPD. If you would like to learn more about DebateWatch or register to organize one of these meetings, please see www.debates.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Presidential debates are a permanent part of every Presidential general election. Debates provide a means for viewers and listeners to become informed about the candidates' positions on the issues. The CPD's primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has sponsored all the presidential debates since 1988.
For the 2008 general election, CPD teamed up with MySpace to create a new website, www.MyDebates.org. The website which will be operational in early September will try and enhance the educational value of the debates while engaging new audiences. The CPD believes that "the Internet can be used to personalize the debates in a way that allows for in-depth examination by individual citizens and joint discussion with others."
The new website will include tools for citizens to make scorecards of important issues and help track the issues throughout the debates.
Voters can submit questions for possible inclusion in the town meeting debate via www.MyDebates.org. This new venture plans to offer unprecedented access and flexibility in following these debates through forums that discuss numerous topics.
The schedules for this fall's debates are as follows (information current as of October 1, 2008):
First Presidential Debate: Friday, Sept. 26, 2008 Vice-Presidential Debate: Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008 Second Presidential Debate: Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008 Third Presidential Debate: Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008
All debates will begin at 9 pm E.T., and will be carried by international media outlets. The debates will have a single moderator and last for 90 minutes.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/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 email@example.com. 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 websiteAsk the Consul: “When Will My Ballot Arrive?”
Your local voting officials in the U.S. should mail your absentee ballot 30 to 45 days before the November 4 general election to your overseas address. Return your voted ballot as early as possible. Be aware of your state's ballot receipt deadline, as well as any postmarking requirements. For more information please see this online page.
The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) serves as an emergency ballot for voters who registered in time but did not receive an official ballot from local election officials. You can access the FWAB using www.fvap.gov as well.Register Online for November 2008 U.S. 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 (263kb, available at http://careers.state.gov/docs/3.0_FSO_RegGuide.pdf ) 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.
In Japan, the Embassy and Consulates will offer the FSOT according to the following schedule.
Fukuoka Nov. 6-7 Nagoya Nov. 6-7 Naha not available Osaka Nov. 7 Sapporo Nov. 6 Tokyo Nov. 6-7
To register, please go to this online site.
Please note the following deadlines:
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.
Seat scheduling for the November test began on September 24 for candidates who have completed their Registration Package.
For more information, 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 online 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 online 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 website.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 online 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.Consumer Alerts: Beware of Email Scams Tied to Financial Crisis
Beware of Email Scams Tied to Financial Crisis
Goodmail Systems advised consumers to be on the lookout for fraudulent email scams and “phishing” attacks related to the current turmoil in the U.S. financial and insurance markets. The article is available online here.
Malware Poses as iPhone Game
Malware writers are spamming e-mails with a file posing as a popular iPhone video game, according to researchers at Sophos. In fact, the file contains a Trojan, which ironically only runs on Microsoft Windows. Still, Sophos said the Trojan can potentially allow a hacker to take over an infected PC. Researchers at Sophos have uncovered a Trojan masquerading itself as a game for the Apple iPhone. The Trojan, identified by Sophos as Troj/Agent-HNY, is being spread via e-mail as an attachment dubbed Penguin.Panic.zip after the popular "Penguin Panic" game for the iPhone. Hoping to snare unsuspecting video game fans, the spam e-mails contain subject lines such as “Virtual iPhone games!” and “Apple: The most popular game!”
The article is available online here.
Fake Facebook 'Add Friends' E-Mail Adds Malware
Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace give scam artists and virus writers new ways to package tried-but-true tricks. The latest example of this making the rounds is an e-mail that appears to be an invitation from Facebook to add a friend: A recipient who opens an attached image to take a look at their new friend instead opens the door for hackers to compromise his PC.
Here are few tips and things to keep in mind that can help you avoid being burned by e-mail based attacks:
- E-mail addresses in the "From:" field can be easily spoofed.
- Never open attachments in e-mails that you weren't expecting, even if the e-mail appears to come from some person or entity you know and trust. (Legitimate Facebook friend requests, in fact, don't include attachments.)
- Avoid responding to unsolicited e-mails. You'll only let spammers know they've got a mark for future e-mails.
The article is available online here.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:
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
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
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
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
The Consulate in Fukuoka helps Americans in Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga and Yamaguchi.
American Consulate General Naha
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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