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Multilingual support for foreign residents

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To accompany the December 2018 revision of the immigration control law, the government adopted a “comprehensive policy to accept foreign talent and to live with them.” A package of measures designed to “admit foreign talent properly and to realize a cohesive society” includes efforts to provide information on administrative services and those useful in daily life in multiple languages.

A key feature of the policy is to help 100 regional and local governments — prefectures, major cities, and municipalities with large foreign populations — set up one-stop centers for “intercultural general consultation,” which will be given in at least 11 languages. In addition to establishing such centers, the policy calls for use of multilingual voice translation apps at the counters of these administrative institutions.

Local government support

In fact, local governments and civic organizations in areas with large foreign populations have long pursued providing information on administrative services and daily lives in multiple languages. In the 1990s, the number of foreign workers soared mainly in the Tokai region, and local governments and citizens’ groups started offering information and consultation services in their native languages.

When the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake hit in 1995, several local citizens’ groups provided telephone consultation services in multiple languages. At the time of the Niigata Chuetsu earthquake in 2004, such civic groups, plus other organizations including international associations from Yokohama and Musashino in Tokyo, provided logistical support for the municipal office of Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, in its effort to offer useful information in multiple languages starting........

© The Japan Times