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Japan consumer watchdog launches hotline for foreign visitors

This screen capture shows the website of the consumer consultation hotline for foreign visitors.

TOKYO -- The National Consumer Affairs Center (NCAC) launched a hotline for foreign visitors to Japan on Dec. 3 amid a growing number of complaints from foreigners about consumer products and services they purchased in the country.

The phone service is provided in six languages -- English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese -- and handles complaints in a three-way call between the caller, interpreter and an NCAC advisor.

The hotline number is 03-5449-0906. It is available from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. on weekdays. It is not offered on weekends or national holidays and is closed between Dec. 29 and Jan. 3. Issues to be covered by the hotline include problems with purchased merchandise, restaurants and bars, hotels and transportation.

With the number of foreign visitors expected to reach as many as 30 million this year alone and increase further in the future, the consumer affairs center decided to open the service in anticipation of consumer issues involving foreigners "occurring more often in forthcoming years," the center said in announcing the service.

Information about the hotline is available online at http://www.kokusen.go.jp/tourists/index.html.

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