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Welcome to the February 2012 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:

Winter Weather Reminder

The Japanese press reports that, in January, another American citizen was caught in foul weather when attempting to ascend Mount Fuji. We cannot emphasize enough the need to be aware of the risks associated with winter activities such as hiking, mountain climbing or skiing.

Every year, climbers are killed on Mount Fuji. The official climbing season is limited to July and August. It is extremely dangerous to climb the mountain during the off-season. Please read the Mount Fuji winter climbing warning issued by Fujiyoshida City, Yamanashi Prefecture. Also, please read the Mount Fuji winter climbing warning issued by the Fujiyoshida Police.

To safely participate in winter outdoor sports, please check the online weather page of The Japan Times for daily weather reports and weekly forecasts. To check for any weather warnings or advisories for your destination, go to the Japan Meteorological Agency website.

 

Seasonal Influenza - Have you gotten your Flu Shot Yet?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that influenza activity in the United States is beginning to increase. With the flu season expected to ramp up through February and continue through May, have you gotten your flu shot yet?

The U.S. CDC website on Seasonal Flu has information about the upcoming flu season, vaccines, high risk populations, and many other resources to help you learn about this common but potentially serious illness.

The Embassy encourages American citizens to stay up-to-date on seasonal and emergent health issues so that they may make the most informed decisions about their own and their family members' health.

For more information about health issues overseas, please visit this website with helpful tips.

 

2012 Election Cycle Voting News

If you want to vote in this year's elections, you must send in a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to your local election officials every year - even if you've previously voted overseas - and every time you change your name, physical address, or email address.

Use the FPCA to request an absentee ballot, and to register to vote if you're not currently registered. The easiest way to fill out this form is to use the online tool available at www.FVAP.gov that walks you through the process based on your state's specific voting rules.

Voters from the states listed below should visit the www.FVAP.gov web portal to register and request their absentee ballot for the February, March, and April 2012 Presidential Preference Primaries (P) and State Primaries (S) listed below:

February Primaries (30-Day Notice):

NOTE for February Primaries: If you have not received your requested state ballot, submit the back-up Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot at www.FVAP.gov (see FWAB information below).

  • Missouri (P): Feb. 7
  • Arizona (P): Feb. 28
  • Michigan (P): Feb. 28

March Primaries: (60-Day Notice)

  • Georgia (P): March 6
  • Massachusetts (P): March 6
  • Ohio (P,S): March 6
  • Oklahoma (P): March 6
  • Tennessee (P): March 6
  • Vermont (P): March 6
  • Virginia (P): March 6
  • Alabama (P,S): March 13
  • Mississippi (P,S): March 13
  • Illinois (P,S): March 20
  • Louisiana (P,S): March 24

April Primaries: (90-Day Notice)

  • District of Columbia (P,S): April 3
  • Maryland (P,S): April 3
  • Texas (P,S): April 3 (This is a change, the election was originally scheduled March 6)
  • Wisconsin (P): April 3
  • Alabama (Primary Runoff): April 24
  • Connecticut (P): April 24
  • Delaware (P): April 24
  • New York (P): April 24
  • Pennsylvania (P,S): April 24
  • Rhode Island (P): April 24

Go to FVAP.gov and get started! It only takes a few minutes!

Be sure you include an email address, phone number, and/or fax number on your absentee ballot application in case your local election official needs to contact you. Remember, many states allow you to submit your form electronically, and deliver your ballot electronically or provide online ballot access. Go to www.FVAP.gov or your state's election website to see how you can return your form.

To find out the status of your registration/absentee ballot request, contact your local election office, or visit your state website.

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a backup ballot. If 30 days before the election (or longer based on your geographic location) you think you will not receive your state ballot in time to vote and return it (especially in February primary states), vote the FWAB at www.FVAP.gov.

Check your state's election website for specific information on candidates, elections, contact information, and links to your local election offices. Find your state's website at FVAP's web portal.

 

2011 Tax Filing News

Are you prepared to file your 2011 tax returns? Go to the IRS homepage to download the forms you will need, or, for those who meet certain conditions, take advantage of e-filing and file your return online.

Even tax returns with a foreign address can be e-filed! A reader reported to the embassy that he was unable to e-file last year. However, we have been told that this year there should be no issues. If you were unable to file electronically from overseas last year, please try again this year.

Refer to Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, for more information for overseas filers. For all the latest tips and answers to your tax related questions, visit www.irs.gov today!

NOTE: If you receive income or pay expenses in a foreign currency, you must translate foreign currency into U.S. dollars. A link to yearly average currency exchange rates can be found online here.

 

School News for Parents

Parents, are you trying to decide in which school to enroll your child for the new academic year? In Japan, the new school year starts in April.

Which school would be best for your child - a local Japanese school or an international school? You may find three articles recently published by The Japan Times useful in making your decision. To access the articles, please click on the links below:

 

Upcoming Holidays and ACS Office Closures

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

Washington’s BirthdayMon. Feb. 20, 2012

A full list of holiday closings is available at: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-holidays.html

American citizens who require emergency assistance during holidays should contact the office serving their Consular District: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7123.html

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: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7123.html

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 http://twitter.com/AmbassadorRoos.

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 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 e-mail 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 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
http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/tacs-main.html

The U.S. Embassy serves Americans in Tokyo, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata and Yamanashi.

The American Citizen Services section at Embassy Tokyo provides all routine services on an appointment-only basis. Emergency services are available without an appointment. Click here to make your appointment.

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.

The American Citizen Services Section at the U.S. Consulate General in Osaka provides all routine services on an appointment-only basis. Emergency services are available without an appointment.

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

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.


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