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    AtHoc messages, J-Alerts Keep Service Members and Families Informed and Safe

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    Story by Cpl. Alex Fairchild 

    Marine Corps Installations Pacific

    CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan - For U.S. service members and their families stationed in Japan, receiving a smartphone alert, paired with an emergency information message, can be a common occurrence. These messages include information about many different topics, ranging from natural disaster alerts to missile or satellite launch notifications. Facilitating prompt notification is crucial to staying informed while living abroad, and only a few simple steps are required to ensure service members and their families receive these critical updates.

    There are two types of messages one can expect to receive while stationed in Japan: AtHoc messages, and J-Alerts. Although originating from different entities, they often relay the same message.

    J-Alerts use Japanese cell towers to reach everyone with a cell signal in an emergency-affected 9region with information and directions regarding the emergency. These messages are pushed out by Japanese officials to notify those in the affected area.

    AtHoc is an enterprise mass notification system, similar to AMBER alerts, used by emergency managers from Marine Corps Installations Pacific to send out emergency texts, calls, and emails, all at once. The messages sent through AtHoc are in English and usually—though not necessarily--contain the same information from the J-Alerts. For those who would like a direct translation of J-Alerts, there is yet another app called ‘Safety Tips’. Safety Tips translates the latest J-Alert into English, usually within seconds of its broadcast.

    Service members and Status of Forces Agreement members assigned to Marine units in Japan will automatically be registered with the AtHoc system. However, to receive alerts on personal devices, and to register phone numbers and email addresses for family members, a quick visit to the AtHoc website is required. This allows service members and government employees to add contact information for all those who wish to receive notifications via AtHoc.

    “The beauty of AtHoc is that we can send out pre-planned messages as well,” said Matt Saupe, the emergency manager with G-3, Training, Operations and Plans, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler. “For example, if we know that a tsunami alert test will be happening, we can schedule an AtHoc message to let everyone know that it is just a test.” Pre-planned messages such as these can alleviate confusion when local Japanese services begin making announcements over community loudspeakers or sending J-Alert messages in Japanese.

    Recently, MCIPAC worked closely with the U.S. Air Force’s 18th Wing, located on Kadena Air Base, to send out AtHoc alerts on possible missile and satellite launches. As recently as this past August, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launched a rocket over Okinawa, triggering early morning J-Alert messages to all phones within the prefecture. Users registered with AtHoc received an English translation shortly after receiving the J-Alert. The DPRK has promised to conduct additional launches, which are expected to prompt similar alerts. Registering for AtHoc ensures that U.S. personnel and their families receive timely English updates during future events.

    Saupe explained that AtHoc is a vital line of communication that provides accurate information in multiple ways. He explained that the most important thing in an emergency is to stay informed.

    “What we need to do in the case of an emergency is to follow the advice on these messages, as well as stay prepared,” said Saupe. “If the messages are letting you know to take shelter, take shelter. The best thing you can do is keep yourself informed through these messaging systems, make a plan, and build an emergency kit.”

    To update your AtHoc contact information, as well as to add dependents’ contact information, visit AtHoc ( to make sure you and your family stay informed during the time of an emergency.

    Information on building an emergency kit can be found at



    Date Taken: 09.22.2023
    Date Posted: 09.29.2023 01:50
    Story ID: 454638

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