Back when I was working in city hall at a small rural town in Kyoto prefecture, one of my duties involved heading to the fire station a few times a month to “role play” with the firemen. (Hey, it beat pushing papers.) To help them gain some experience with handling potential emergency calls from foreign residents, I would play the part of the panicking gaijin, often trying to come up with weird and wacky scenarios for the emergency services guys to handle. The object was to train the (almost completely non-English speaking) EMTs to pick out essential keywords such as “fire”, “car accident”, “unconscious”, etc from a barrage of English, but mostly I just had a blast inventing crazy scenarios like “my Playstation 3 just blew up and set fire to my neighbour’s poodle!”

It’s not all fun and games, however. Time-wasting calls to Japan’s emergency services numbers 119 and 110 have been a serious problem recently, with increasing numbers of people abusing the service to ask for help with a range of ridiculous scenarios, ranging from running out of toilet paper to forgetting their smartphone password…

As mentioned above, Japan has two dedicated numbers for the emergency services, 119 for fire and ambulance and 110 to contact the police. Niconico News recently reported that in 2014, 24.3% of all calls made to the 110 number were classed as “non-essential”, and that included the following examples:

“One person called to ask for help when they discovered that the public restroom they were in had no toilet paper.”

“One person called to ask for advice, having forgotten their smartphone pass lock and accidentally getting locked out of their phone.”

“Another called to complain when the vending machine they were using short-changed them.”

“One panicked caller wanted urgent help when they accidentally blocked a friend’s toilet.”

“After discovering that an insect had become lodged in their ear, one person called the police for advice on correct removal procedure.”

And in perhaps the most obnoxious example of all, a mother called the police to ask them to send a patrol car to take her unwell child to the doctor, as she didn’t feel like braving the rush-hour traffic herself.

 ▼ It’s not like we’re entirely unsympathetic to the plight of the person who found themselves in a TP conundrum, but that’s still no excuse to go bothering the fuzz.

Wikimedia Commons © Batholith

Our source also reports that last year, the police recorded an average response time of only seven minutes, a pretty impressive number despite being four seconds slower than the number recorded in 2013. Still, if you multiply those seven minutes by the total number of nonsense calls, that’s an awful lot of wasted police time that could be spent on better things, like arresting people who don’t realise that printing 3-D guns is illegal, or busting pervs with secret cameras hidden in their shoes.

 ▼ Forgetting your smartphone passcode is certainly frustrating, but calling the police about it just seems like an incredibly dumb idea, since there’s always the chance they’ll think you swiped it from someone else.

Flickr © wrongdude

If in doubt, it’s always better to call the secondary “advice” line that’s meant for non-emergencies, which in Japan is the easily-memorable #9110. But for truly dumb cases like those listed above, we’d recommend googling it first – after all, there’s bound to be someone else on the internet with the exact same problem as you – even if it’s something as mad as singeing the fur off your neighbour’s poodle with a faulty PS3…

Edit: Thanks to reader Kai for pointing out that the important ‘#’ must be dialled when calling with a non-emergency. 

Source: Niconico News,
Main Image: Owlnwolf@Flickr