As visitors to Japan increase ahead of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, so have cases of tourists becoming embroiled in consumer problems.
The government-linked National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan’s multilingual consumer hotline received a total of 283 consultations in the year since it was launched in December 2018. About 60 percent of the consultations were in Chinese, while English was the second-most common language.
Consumer complaints spiked during the Rugby World Cup, held in the fall.
Calls regarding accommodation-related issues were the most common type, followed by those regarding food, such as problems eating out or ordering food for delivery. Almost all complaints about issues related to shopping for items such as cosmetics and watches were made by Chinese-speaking visitors.
Some calls were made even before the visitors arrived in Japan, such as consultations about canceling reservations.
In July last year, one man from France complained about not being able to check into his accommodation and having to sleep outside. The man said he was not able to get the keys to the minpaku private lodging service he had reserved, as the owner was absent when he arrived 30 minutes late to the planned check-in time despite having emailed earlier about his flight being delayed.
In October, a man who came from New Zealand to watch the Rugby World Cup said his credit card was charged ¥2 million after his card information was stolen at a bar where a woman had taken him.
The center is distributing information about the hotline through the websites of foreign countries’ embassies in Japan, as well as through tourist information centers.
“We would like to call on public transportation services to cooperate as well” ahead of the Olympics, the center said.
Services in English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese are available on the hotline. French services are due to be included from this April.
The telephone number for the service is 03-5449-0906.