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Welcome to the June 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

Voting workshop to be held at the U.S. Embassy June 29

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) will hold a workshop on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, starting at 1 p.m. at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, to train voting volunteers on helping Americans who live overseas exercise their right to vote. If you are a "voting volunteer" at your office, your school or within your community, you should attend this workshop. The workshop is an interactive, hands-on training session with the participants asking questions and making comments as the workshop progresses. It's a great way to become an expert on voting absentee and helping others to participate in the democratic process as a voter. Each ballot counts! If you are interested in attending, please e-mail: votetokyo@state.gov with your name, telephone number, e-mail address and organization.

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

The following States will hold Primary Elections during the months of May and June, 2010 on the dates indicated.

June 1:Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico
June 8:California, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia
June 22:Utah
July 20:Georgia
July 27:Oklahoma

Register and Request Your Ballot Now!

Anyone who has 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 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.

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


Ask the Consul: How does the Social Security agreement affect me?

Q: How does the existing Social Security agreement between Japan and the U.S. affect American citizens who have worked in both the U.S. and Japan and who could have retirement income from both countries?

A: The agreement provides citizens of the U.S. and Japan who have paid into the pension systems of both countries but have not met all of the requirements of the respective system an opportunity to combine "credits" to meet time/quarter requirements for the respective system. However, payment is made only for the portion actually contributed to that system. U.S. Social Security requires 40 quarters of coverage. If the person already has 40 quarters the agreement does not affect them. If the person has more than six but less than 39 quarters, the agreement might be very helpful. For more information about the U.S.-Japan Social Security agreement, please visit this website.

Q: Is it mandatory to consolidate Social Security payments so they come from only one source, for example from U.S. Social Security if retiring within the U.S. system?

A: Payments are not consolidated. Separate payments from the respective systems are paid to the beneficiary.

For individual cases, please write us at FBU.Tokyo@ssa.gov and include your contact information so that we may assist accordingly. Thank you.

If you have a question for the Consul, please send it to this e-mail address.


Travel.state.gov website re-launches with new look and feel

On May 25, 2010, the State Department re-launched the travel.state.gov site in an effort to continually improve the availability of consular information to the public. The first phase of the redesign focuses on making the look and feel of the site more closely resemble that of www.state.gov while cleaning up some of the site's navigation tools. If readers notice any broken links in the Tokyo ACS site, please let us know by sending an e-mail to tokyoacs@state.gov.


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:

Sri Lanka05/26/2010
Afghanistan05/25/2010
Burundi05/19/2010
Thailand05/15/2010
Cote d'Ivoire05/12/2010
Niger05/11/2010
Mexico05/06/2010
Georgia05/03/2010

More information from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand is available on their warden messages page.

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:

South Africa05/25/2010
Jamaica05/21/2010
Mozambique04/30/2010
India04/16/2010
Malaysia04/16/2010

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.


FYI: U.S. Visa fees to increase on June 4

Although this news does not affect U.S. citizens directly, if you work with anyone seeking a U.S. visa, you can let them know that fees are increasing on June 4, 2010. The fees for the most common visas: the B1 visa for business, the B2 visa for tourism, the F visa for students and the J visa for exchange program participants will increase to $140. The new fees for H, L, O, P, Q, and R visas will be $150; for E visas $390, and K visas $350.

For more information about the fee increase, please click here.

For an explanation of the types of visas or to answer any other question you might have about visas, please click here.


Check out "Z Notes," the official blog of the U.S. Embassy in Japan

After being published for a solid year, the official U.S. Embassy in Japan blog "Z Notes" is still going strong. You can read the latest entries online here.

While our Deputy Chief of Mission, Jim Zumwalt, typically has no problem coming up with topics for the blog, he welcomes blog topic suggestions from our readers. You can make suggestions or comment on items that have already been written by visiting the above link.


Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures

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


Memorial Day May 31 (Monday)
Independence DayJuy 4 (Observed Monday, July 5)

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.


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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