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Welcome to the April 2010 ACS newsletter!

To subscribe to the ACS Newsletter (it's free), just go to our website and enter your email address.

Here are the topics for this month

Services

Tax presentation with IRS representative scheduled for April 6

On April 6, 2010, starting at 17:30 in the Embassy, a representative of the Internal Revenue Service will conduct an hour-long seminar on taxes. To register for this event, please send an e-mail request to the following e-mail address: tokyoacs@state.gov. Please use the subject line: Tax Presentation Registration Request. Your registration will be confirmed by e-mail.


Is Your Child a Victim of International Parental Child Abduction?

With the rise in the number of international marriages, an increasing number of Americans face the problem of parental child abduction in which one parent takes a child away from the child's other parent, and denies the "left-behind parent" access to the child. The U.S. Embassy has called upon Japan to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, as well as to implement measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and ensure visitation rights, and to establish a framework for resolution of current child abduction cases. The U.S. Embassy urges American parents who are in this situation to contact the Consular Section at 03-3224-5000 or tokyoacs@state.gov.


Earthquakes can and do happen in Japan – be prepared

Japan is one of the most seismically active pieces of real estate in the world. The Tokyo metropolitan area experiences daily earth tremors of varying intensities and the likelihood that a severe and damaging earthquake will occur is high. The consequences of such a quake will vary greatly depending upon the time of day and time of year that the quake occurs, and no one can predict with any certainty what conditions will be like immediately following an intense shock. The Embassy website has information about earthquakes and suggestions on how to best prepare for "the big one."


Don't take safety for granted: "Low Threat" doesn’t mean "No Threat"

Japan is fortunately one of the safest countries in the world. However, U.S. Embassy, Japan, Regional Security Officer, Don Weinberg, says, "Low threat does not mean no threat."

Even in Japan, attention to one's personal security should be a fundamental part of everyone's daily routine. Good personal security practices include always being aware of one's surroundings and varying one's times and routes to work and social functions so as to not be predictable.

Regularly visit the Embassy's Web site and the Department of State's online travel pages to ensure that you have the latest security information not only for Japan but other countries you may visit for pleasure or business. Make it a point to register with the Embassy's American Citizens Services section so we can better serve you in times of crisis. The online registration link is here.

For the American business community, consider joining the Embassy Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), which has monthly meetings on a wide range of security issues important to individuals representing American interests in Japan. If you are interested, please contact the Regional Security Office at the Embassy at 03-3225-5583.

Finally, keep in mind what former Secretary of State George Shultz said on the establishment of OSAC: "You can never delegate to others the responsibility for your personal security."


Do you habla a little Espanol? Test your fluency with upcoming exam

The Embassy of Spain in Japan has asked for assistance in publicizing the "DELE," the only internationally recognized test available in Japan to certify one's ability to speak Spanish. Showing fluency in a foreign language is becoming more and more important globally. The DELE is considered the Spanish language global standard, and the results do not expire. The next test will be offered May 22-23. For additional information, please visit http://diplomas.cervantes.es.


Attention voters (read carefully, as a lot of States are mentioned!)

On Tuesday, April 13, 2010, Florida will hold a special general election to fill the Congressional vacancy left by the resignation of Congressman Robert Wexler. The 19th Congressional District includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

The following states will hold primary elections during the months of May and June, 2010 on the dates indicated.

May 4, 2010Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio
May 11, 2010Nebraska, West Virginia
May 18, 2010Arkansas, Kentucky, Oregon, Pennsylvania
May 25, 2010Idaho
June 1, 2010Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico
June 8, 2010California, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia
June 22, 2010Utah

Register and Request Your Ballot Now!

All members of the U.S. Uniformed Services, their family members and citizens residing outside the U.S. who are residents from these States and have not yet submitted a registration and ballot request (FPCA) for the 2010 calendar year, should do so as soon as possible. The FPCA ballot application and instructions for the above States are available at www.fvap.gov/FPCA. Click on your State on the map and follow the instructions to register and request an absentee ballot. Some States allow submitting the FPCA by fax or email in addition to regular mail.

Send your FPCA NOW to your election office to ensure you have enough time to receive, vote, and return the ballot!

For more information, please visit this website and click on the news release for your state.


New Law Makes Absentee Voting Easier for Overseas Americans

On October 28, 2009, Congress enacted the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act. This legislation amends existing law regarding overseas voting in federal elections, and should make voting easier for overseas Americans. This information was featured in a special release of this newsletter. For more information, please visit www.fvap.gov. (Please note: The warden message issued February 23, 2010, had an incorrect domain address. The correct address is www.fvap.gov. We regret any inconvenience this has caused.)


Proposal for Changes in Schedule of Fees for Consular Services

On Feb. 9, 2010 the Department of State published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to change certain consular fees, including those related to U.S. passport and passport card applications, immigrant visas, and other services provided to U.S. and foreign citizens. The proposed rule to change fees is based on a comprehensive cost of service study completed in June 2009. As demand for passports increased to an average of 15 million per year, the increase in certain fees will help cover actual operating expenses for the Department of State's 301 consular posts abroad, 23 domestic passport agencies, and other centers that provide consular services to both U.S. and foreign citizens. However, improvements in automated systems have also decreased some fees, such as the application fee for determining returning resident status.

The Department will not begin collecting either of these new proposed fees until it fully considers public comments and publishes a final rule. In order to view both proposed rules and to submit comments, please go to www.regulations.gov. To view the proposed rule released on Feb. 9 and to submit comments, please click here. Written comments must be received on or before March 8, 2010. To see the original notice on our website, please visit this online page.


Ask the Consul: Do Americans living overseas count in the Census?

Recently, an American citizen e-mailed the ACS section and asked if Americans living abroad are counted in the official U.S. Census. We found the answer in the official 2010 U.S. Census website.

The 2010 Census counts will include federal employees (military and civilian) and their dependents living overseas with them that can be assigned to a home state. These data are provided to the Census Bureau by the employing federal departments and agencies through their administrative records. However, private U.S. citizens living abroad who are not affiliated with the federal government (either as employees or their dependents) will not be included in the overseas counts. These overseas counts are used solely for reapportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please visit the website listed above for more details.


Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures

The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulates on Japan will be closed on the following dates:


Golden Week HolidayApril 29, May 3-5 (Thurs., Mon.-Wed.)

A full list of all of our holiday closings is available online here.

American citizens who require emergency assistance during holidays should contact the office serving their part of Japan, a list of which is available online here.

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


Appointments required for Tokyo ACS services

The American Citizen Services section at Embassy Tokyo provides all routine services on an appointment-only basis. The Embassy is unable to accommodate applicants without an appointment. Emergency services are available without an appointment.

Click here to make your appointment.

Appointments are needed for all Passport services, Consular Report of Birth applications and notary services.

Federal Benefits services are provided on an appointment-only basis. Please see the Federal Benefits webpage for details.

The ACS branch in Tokyo is closed on Wednesday afternoons.

This announcement does not affect U.S. Consulates elsewhere in Japan. For information on operating hours and ACS services provided by Consulates in Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka-Kobe, Fukuoka, and Naha, please see their individual web pages.


Naha Consulate Appointments Now Available Online

In order to better serve American citizens in Okinawa and reduce wait times, the U.S. Consulate General, Naha, has implemented a new online appointment system. Currently, all non-emergency American Citizen Services in Naha are offered on an appointment-only basis. Appointments are required for all passport services, consular report of birth abroad applications, notary services, and federal benefits services.

For details on the new appointment system at Consulate General, Naha, application requirements, and hours of service, please check this online page.

For links to similar consular services at U.S. Embassy Tokyo or other consulates around Japan, please consult the Embassy website.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection Global Entry Program

Global Entry is a pilot program managed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States. Although this program is intended for "frequent travelers" who make several international trips per year, there is no minimum number of trips an applicant must make in order to qualify. Participants may enter the United States by utilizing automated kiosks located at airports such as Washington Dulles (IAD), Los Angeles International (LAX), John F. Kennedy (JFK), Honolulu International (HNL), and many more. Currently, 20 airports are participating in Global Entry.

The process requires participants to present their machine-readable U.S. passport or permanent resident card, submit their fingerprints for biometric verification, and make a customs declaration at the kiosk's touch-screen. Upon successful completion of the Global Entry process at the kiosk, the traveler is issued a transaction receipt and directed to baggage claim and the exit, unless chosen for a selective or random secondary referral.

Additional information, including how to enroll, is available from the Department of Homeland Security online here.


Security Delays for U.S. Flights

Flights arriving to and departing from the United States may experience delays due to increased security measures. Passengers should plan to arrive early at airports overseas and in the U.S. For more information on these increased security measures, please see the Transportation Security Administration website.


Security Situation

Security reminder: There is no specific threat information for American citizens in Japan. However, it's a good idea for you and your family to review your personal security profile and to be aware of your surroundings at all times. The Department of State maintains its Worldwide Caution issued Feb. 12, 2010, which updated information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against American citizens and interests throughout the world.

Since our previous ACS Newsletter, the U.S. Department of State has issued new Travel Warnings for the following countries. This information is available online here.

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

Central African Republic2/26/2010
Yemen2/25/2010
Iraq2/25/2010
Haiti2/226/2010
Saudi Arabia2/18/2010

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 new Travel Alerts for:

Chile2/28/2010
Mexico2/22/2010
India2/29/2010
Philippines1/20/2010
Malaysia1/15/2010
Niger11/19/2009

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 information is available online here.

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 especially for them.

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.


Country Specific Information Available at Travel.State.Gov

Country Specific Information is available for every country of the world on the State Department's travel information website. These pages include such information as the location of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the subject country, unusual immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime and security information, and drug penalties. Visit this online page to view information for any country in the world.


While in Japan, carry your passport or alien registration at all times

All Americans in Japan are reminded that Japan's Immigration Control Act requires all foreigners 16 years old and older to carry their passport or alien registration card with them at all times. Foreigners in Japan must present these identity documents upon request from an authorized immigration official or police officer. The Embassy has been notified of Americans being detained by police for not carrying these documents. Foreigners in possession of an alien registration card are not required to also carry their passport, but visitors without the card need to carry their passport. A foreign national who does not obey this requirement will face criminal penalty under Article 76 of the Immigration Control Act, or possibly an administrative penalty under Article 77-2 of the act.


Department of State Online Travel Registration

The Department of State maintains a secure online travel registration website which will allow you, as an American citizen, to record foreign trip and residence information that the Department of State can use to communicate with you and assist you in case of an emergency. U.S. citizens around the world who travel or reside abroad can register at http://travelregistration.state.gov. If you encounter any difficulties or have any questions about our travel registration website, please send an e-mail to CAIbrs@state.gov.


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

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 prefectures. All American Citizen Services are by appointment only.

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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