Emergencies & Hospitalization

Tokyo Meguro Counseling Center

Tel: 03-3716-6624  Japanese version

The phone number to call an ambulance in Japan is 119. For the police it is 110 (Police English line is: 03-3501-0110; dial +81-3-3501-0110 from outside of Japan).

The Meguro Counseling Center recommends keeping a list of hospitals that are near your place of employment and residence that can provide you with medical and/or psychiatric care in the case of an emergency. If you think that you or a significant other may have an emergency and you are not accustomed to speaking Japanese easily, we suggest that you prepare a card in Roman letters that describes your name, address, phone number, and a few short phrases in Japanese that state your needs for emergency help. If you take psychiatric medications, you should also prepare a list of all your medication names and doses in Japanese. The Meguro Counseling Center can help you prepare this information in a session.

Psychiatric or Medical Emergencies

The Meguro Counseling Center itself does not have an emergency outreach function. We can provide information to you similar to that on this page, but we are not a medical clinic, do not have the right or ability to commit a person to a hospital or psychiatric ward, and do not have a specific contact to another professional service or facility that can provide emergency help and/or admission to a hospital. If there is a situation that portends serious harm to oneself or others, however, we may contact a client's family, significant other, friend, aquaintance, place of work, embassy, etc., in the service of getting help to the person. The definition of "concerning situation" will be up to the assigned therapist to determine on a case-by-case basis, and any contacts/information provided by the client or public data bases may be used to effect this contact.

If you or a significant other has an urgent medical or psychiatric situation and you cannot readily contact your therapist for advice, you should either contact your medical physician, visit a hospital emergency room, or call an ambulance or the police as soon as possible. Most all university hospitals have emergency rooms and psychiatric wards. One hospital with emergency services is the Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo General Hospital (Tel: 03-3444-1181) in Minato ward located walking distance from the Hiroo subway station or a short Taxi ride from either the Ebisu or Meguro JR Yamanote line train stations. The U.S. Embassy also has a helpful list of hospitals in Tokyo.

The problem is that most of these hospitals will likely tell you to find a psychiatric hospital and will not easily allow you inside the emergency room unless you are quite adamant you will hurt yourself and/or note to them that the Medical Doctor Law No.19 ("Ishihou Ju-Kyu Jou") stipulates that doctors can not refuse to see patients. You may do better by calling the Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Information Center called "Himawari" which also has an English line at: 03-5285-8181 to find a hospital that will accept you for psychiatric reasons, although it can take some time to effect acceptance from a hospital. A private ambulance company, Zen Nichi Kyu (Tel: 0120-340-560), may be helpful in involuntary admission cases in Japan where the family has already made arrangements with a specific hospital. SOS International may be helpful for non-Japanese that require escorted repatriation to their home country.

Psychiatric Hospitalization

For clients being seen at the center, in the case that you or a significant other requires psychiatric hospitalization, your therapist can provide you with the names of some Japanese hospitals for your reference. However, as the therapists at the Meguro Counseling Center do not work directly with the physicians in these institutions, nor have any specific ability to effect hospital admission, they can not guarantee which hospital will actually accept a specific patient, the adequacy of the care provided, the ability of the staff to speak English, nor take responsibility for the care received from these medical facilities.

Obtaining admission to a psychiatric unit in Japan is usually not as easy to effect as it is in many Western countries. Japanese psychiatric hospitals and wards tend to be full, and these facilities usually require that the person has a significant and disabling psychiatric illness with active symptomatology. Fluency in Japanese, as well as participation in the Japanese National Health Insurance, are key factors in the likelihood of being accepted for psychiatric hospitalization. Without the National Health Insurance or good Japanese language skills, a Japanese hospital is likely to coordinate with one's embassy for prompt discharge and repatriation even if one is accepted for admission.

While your therapist will conscientiously help you with advice in these cases, the procedure for in-patient hospital admission is something that in the end is up to the patient and/or significant others to effect via contacting hospitals, taxi, police, ambulance, etc. You may also want to contact your embassy for advice and assistance. If there is ongoing risk of need for admission to a psychiatric ward and the person in question does not have good command of Japanese, then it is prudent to consider repatriation to one's home country before an emergency arises.

For first-time inquiries, as it is impossible for the Center to understand your exact needs over the phone or e-mail, you would need to make a personal decision on what kind of hospital, doctor, or medical treatment you think you need if you have an emergency or require hospital admission. You may use the information and links on this page to guide you, and you can reference the medical information provided on the various Tokyo embassy web sites.

If you are trying to effect admission to a hospital for someone who does not wish to go to a hospital, even if that person is clearly in a bad state of mind, drinks heavily, may feel significantly suicidal etc., it is practically impossible to get them admitted against their will. Neither the police nor an ambulance are likely to forcibly bring a person to a hospital who does not wish to be admitted unless there has been a clear event of danger to onseself or other with noticible and significant consequences of physical injury and/or damage to objects. Unfortunately, many of these persons will fall thru the cracks in the system.

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Tokyo Meguro Counseling Center logo design by Burt Berger, AIA Emeritus, October 2008.

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The Meguro Counseling Center consists of Western-trained therapists able to provide face-to-face mental-health care for the international community in Tokyo. With extensive experience in Japan, these therapists have a deep understanding of the stresses of living in Japan.