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Foreigners need to be included in response efforts to disasters

28 5 83

The 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, which ravaged the city of Kobe, engendered a new wave of disaster response efforts in Japan, including greater roles for volunteers.

One notable trend that emerged in the aftermath of the quake concerns local communities’ responses to foreign residents.

In Kobe’s Nagata Ward, where the violent shaking of the ground and resultant fires caused massive casualties, a Catholic church became a center of relief activities for survivors of different nationalities.

The church served as a base for operations to provide information and aid supplies organized mainly by nongovernmental organizations.

During the past quarter-century, the number of foreign residents in Japan has doubled and surpassed 2.6 million, mostly because of the growing ranks of technical trainees and students.

With the nation’s population rapidly aging and shrinking, many areas depend heavily on foreign workers.

Japanese society urgently needs to incorporate people who have come from abroad into its efforts to prepare for disasters and........

© The Asahi Shimbun