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Emergency help buttons almost always in Japanese

Posted on June 16th, 2008

Emergency Help ButtonToilet with Emergency Help Button

Here’s another common sight in Japan: emergency help buttons, especially next to toilets, which is without doubt a good idea. The pictures above show a toilet in a public subway station that no doubt it used by many foreigners. The text in Japanese says “Please press in an emergency” on top and “Emergency button” taped on the bottom. The placement of the emergency button is such that it could be easily confused for the flush button by some people. How hard would it be to put a simple English translation on it? No doubt the button has been pressed by mistake by some foreigners; I’m sure originally it didn’t have the protective tape over it at the beginning.

When I was a student studying in Japan during college, our Japanese reading skills were really awful. Many
apartments also have emergency buttons in the bathrooms. I still remember going to one of my friend’s apartments with another friend, who accidentally pushed the emergency button instead of flush, as again it didn’t have any English translation! This created quite a stir… I can somewhat understand the buttons in private homes being only in Japanese, but in public places it seems the benefit of avoiding unnecessary false alarms would outweigh the difficulty of writing “Emergency Button” in English. Yet I have still not seen a button with an English translation. I will keep looking…

Suggested English: Emergency Help Button

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