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The Police Box (“Koban”) System

Essential Info

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Accident, Theft, or Other Emergency
The Police Box ("Koban") System
If You Become Ill
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To report a crime, accident, or other emergency, dial ‘110’ from any telephone. In Tokyo, an English-language line to the Metropolitan Police is available from Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., at 03-3501-0110.

Your best resource for contacting the police, getting directions if you are lost, or for reporting a lost or stolen item, is your nearest "Koban", or police box. This network of mini police stations is unique to Japan, and they can be found in virtually every neighborhood throughout the country, there are over 1200 Koban in Tokyo alone. While not all Koban are staffed 24 hours a day, most of the police boxes located in heavily populated areas will have an officer on duty. In the most popular tourist areas, Ginza, or Shinjuku, for example, there may be someone who can help you in English, and they may have forms and other documents available in English as well.

Look for the KOBAN sign, with its distinctive red light, whenever you need police help with:

  • Reporting a loss, theft, or other crime
  • Reporting an automobile accident
  • Directions to businesses and attractions
  • Other emergency-related questions

If you are unable to find a police box, ask at your hotel or other local business, most people will know where the nearest one is located in their neighborhood.