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Welcome to the September 2011 ACS newsletter!

To subscribe to the ACS Newsletter (it's free), just visit this page and enter your e-mail address.

Here are the topics for this month:

Sapporo Consular District Announcement

Currently, due to a staffing shortage in the Consular Section, appointments are limited for American Citizen Services such as passport and notarial services.

We also may need to change previously scheduled appointments on short notice. Therefore, we strongly suggest you avoid purchasing non-refundable train or air tickets if you are coming from a distant city. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.


ACS Appointments Coming to Osaka in September 2011

The American Citizen Services Section at the U.S. Consulate General in Osaka soon will begin offering most ACS services by appointment only. Please monitor our website at the address below for the formal starting date. All appointments will be made online.

U.S. Citizen Services | Consulate General of the United States Osaka, Japan

Appointments will be needed for all Passport Applications and Renewals, Consular Reports of a Birth Abroad, Notary Services, and to have Additional Pages added to your current passport. No appointment will be necessary for emergency services.

Osaka will continue to take appointments from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, except for Japanese and U.S. official holidays.

Federal Benefits Services will continue to be offered on an appointment only basis.

Please see the U.S. Citizen Services section of the U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe’s website for further information or e-mail us at

Please also note that ACS Osaka will be closed to the public on September 15 and 16. We will reopen on September 19, 2011 (We are open on Respect for the Aged Day, a Japanese holiday.) In case of an emergency involving an American citizen, please call 06-6315-5900 for assistance.

Nevada to Hold a Special Election for Congress – September 13

On Tuesday, September 13, 2011, Nevada will hold a special election for the 2nd Congressional District, to fill the seat vacated by Representative Dean Heller. The 2nd Congressional District includes all of Nevada with the exception of some parts of Clark County.

If you are already registered to vote, the deadline for submitting an FPCA to request a ballot is September 6, 2011. If you are not already registered to vote, please follow the instructions given at

To find out the status of your registration, you can refer to Nevada’s voter registration verification website at: To determine the status of your absentee ballot request, contact your local election office.


New York to Hold a Special Election for Congress – September 13

On Tuesday, September 13, 2011, New York will hold a special election for the 9th Congressional District, to fill the seat vacated by Representative Anthony D. Weiner. The 9th Congressional District includes parts of southern Brooklyn and south central Queens. In Queens, the 9th District includes Maspeth, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Middle Village, Forest Hills, Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Rego Park, Rockaway Beach, and Woodhaven. In Brooklyn the 9th District includes Flatlands, Gerritsen Beach, Marine Park, Midwood, Mill Basin and Sheepshead Bay.

If you are already registered to vote, the deadline for submitting an FPCA to request a ballot is September 6, 2011. If you are not already registered to vote, please follow the instructions given at

To find out the status of your registration, you can refer to New York’s voter registration verification website at: To determine the status of your absentee ballot request, contact your local election office.

Oregon to Hold a Special Election for Congress – November 8

On Tuesday, November 8, 2011, Oregon will hold a special primary election for the 1st Congressional District, to fill the seat vacated by Representative David Wu. The 1st Congressional District includes parts of northwestern Oregon. This is a Special Primary election applicable only to those registered with the Democratic and Republican Parties. The General election will be held on Tuesday, January 31, 2012. In Oregon, the 1st District includes Clatsop County, Columbia County, Washington County, Yamhill County and part of Multnomah County which includes some of the Portland metropolitan area.

If you are not already registered to vote, you may do so online at, or by submitting a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). Your FPCA must be received by your local Oregon Elections Office by October 18, 2011. Go to and get started! It only takes a few minutes! Alternately you may obtain an FPCA from your unit or installation voting assistance officer and at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide; but you must follow the Oregon instructions given at Indicate on the FPCA how you would like to receive your absentee ballot, by mail, e-mail, or fax. You will not receive a ballot automatically, even if you voted in the November 2, 2010 general election.

If you are already registered to vote, the deadline for submitting an FPCA to request a ballot is November 8, 2011.

To find out the status of your registration, or your absentee ballot request you can refer to Oregon’s elections website at: and go to MyVote.

Free Legal Counseling for Foreigners – October 22

Saturday, October 22, 2011 from 1pm-4pm, the Kanto Federation of Bar Associations, the Tokyo Bar Association, the Dai-ichi Tokyo Bar Association, and the Dai-ni Tokyo Bar Association are sponsoring an afternoon of free legal counseling at Ichiben Hall, 12th floor, Bar Associations Building (1-1-3 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo). Free legal advice will be offered for all kinds of mental and legal problems, including those concerning visas, labor, contracts, and compensation for damages, as well as family problems related to marriage and divorce. All consultations are confidential. Service will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. No phone reservations. Languages spoken include Japanese, English, French, Spanish and Chinese, as well as other foreign languages. For more information, please call the Dai-ichi Tokyo Bar Association at 03-3595-8575.


New Names for “Warden Messages”

The Department of State and the Embassy sometimes need to communicate with Americans abroad on non-emergency issues. We therefore decided to replace the phrase “Warden Message” with two new message headings, allowing us to clearly highlight the nature of the message. “Message for U.S. Citizens” is the label for routine but important messages such as voting news, town hall meetings, and new passport procedures. “Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens” is the label for breaking news messages containing advice for the resident community, such as those alerting U.S. citizens to demonstrations, a political crisis, a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack.


How to Bring Your Pet into Japan

The Japanese Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) is the official source of information regarding the importation of pets into Japan. It is important that pet owners consult the AQS website and make the proper coordination directly with AQS in order to avoid any misunderstandings. The U.S. Embassy recommends all pet owners contact AQS by e-mail early on, even if the required forms are not ready. The helpful people at AQS encourage direct communication through e-mail. To access the AQS website please click on the following link:


How to Take Your Pet out of Japan

Exporting pets takes a lot of planning. The process can prove frustrating at times, so be sure to follow all procedures carefully. It is very important that pet owners check with the Japanese Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) website to obtain the most updated information. To access the AQS website please click on the following link:

For pet owners who are returning to the United States, it is imperative that you read and understand the U.S. Import Requirements. The following websites below will help you check the requirements to bring animals into the U.S.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control

  • Traveling with Pets, Importation of Animals and Animal Products into the United States

USDA - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

  • Main APHIS animal health page
  • Importation of Pets and Other Animals Into the United States
Department of State Releases New iPhone App for Travelers

The Department of State recently released its new "Smart Traveler" app for U.S. travelers going abroad. The app is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (requires iOS 4.0 or later). The Smart Traveler app provides easy access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more. Travelers can also set up customized “e-tineraries” to keep track of arrival and departure dates and to make notes about upcoming trips. Additionally, the app provides a link for travelers to enroll in the State Department's free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that the State Department can better assist them in an emergency.

More information about the Smart Traveler app can be found at and


U.S. Embassy Health and Safety Information Webpage

The March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant accident raised new questions about how best to protect health after a disaster. These pages offer you helpful information from U.S. and Japanese government agencies that you can use to support your continued safety and well being.


How to Contribute to Help Victims of the Earthquake/Tsunami in Japan

Many people have expressed an interest in contributing to Japan following the tragic earthquake and tsunami of March 11. Please see below the guidance prepared by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) based on the situation in Japan and years of experience in responding to natural disasters around the world.

The guidance includes organizational points of contact for further information that we hope will be helpful to you in considering and determining how best to contribute to relief efforts.


Travel Warnings and Alerts

The State Department updated its Travel Alert for Japan on July 19, 2011 to note the U.S. Government assessment that health and safety risks associated with the use of Sendai Airport are low. This alert remains in effect until September 18, 2011. We recommend you review it again, even if you have already read it.

Security Reminder: On July 26, 2011, the Department of State issued a Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated January 31, 2011, to provide updated information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide. This information is available at:

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

Turks and Caicos 08/23/2011
Somalia 08/19/2011
Haiti 08/08/2011
Pakistan 08/08/2011
Syria 08/05/2011
Niger 08/05/2011
Saudi Arabia 08/05/2011

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. A complete list of countries for which Travel Warnings have been issued can be viewed online at

Currently, Travel Alerts are in effect for the following countries:

Tunisia 07/08/2011
Pacific Typhoon Season06/02/2011
Hurricane Season 201106/01/2011

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 at:

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

For additional information, please visit "Americans Traveling Abroad" on the Department of State website:

Students traveling abroad may wish to visit:

To obtain up-to-date information on security conditions, please call 202-501-4444. For an explanation of the types of visas or to answer any other question you might have about visas, please click here:

Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures

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

Labor DayMonday, September 5
Autumn Equinox Day Friday, September 23

NOTE: On September 15-16, all U.S. Consulates in Japan will be closed except for emergency American Citizen Services issues.

A full list of holiday closings is available at:

American citizens who require emergency assistance during holidays should contact the office serving their Consular District:

To view the business hours for the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and all of the U.S. Consulates in Japan, check the following webpage:

Follow Ambassador Roos on Twitter

Ambassador John V. Roos uses Twitter's real-time information network to share his experiences in Japan. He invites everyone to follow his tweets at

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 update online here.

Our Deputy Chief of Mission, Jim Zumwalt, welcomes blog topic suggestions from our readers. You can make suggestions or comment on items that have already been written by visiting Z Notes online.

STEP: Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

We encourage you to sign up for the U.S. State Department's free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (formerly known as "Travel Registration" or "Registration with Embassies").

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that U.S. embassies and consulates can better assist you in an emergency, including situations where your family or friends in the U.S. are having problems trying to contact you with important news. When you sign up, you will automatically receive the most current information embassies compile about the country where you will be traveling or living. You will also receive any applicable Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.

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 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 e-mail address you used to subscribe, and send a blank e-mail to:

If you need to receive these newsletters at a different e-mail 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

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
Tel: 098-876-4211
Fax: 098-876-4243

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.

Inclusion of Non-U.S. Government links or information does not imply endorsement of contents. This subscription list is maintained by a private company and the U.S. Government cannot guarantee the privacy of any e-mail address.