Multicultural Organizations Directory
Sapporo International Communication Plaza Foundation
Multicultural Organizations Directory
In the 2010 Fiscal year, The International Communication Plaza Foundation joined the City of Sapporo on the "Agreement on the Establishment and Management of the Multilingual Disaster Support Center" and assumed that role.
In the midst of a disaster, foreign nationals who do not have sufficient understanding of Japanese fear that they may not be able to understand information broadcast by the government, become delayed in evacuating, and/or not be able to receive necessary support.
Also, depending on which country they are from, there may be some people who do not know how to react due to the fact that there have few experiences with disasters such as earthquakes, and therefore do not know how to respond quickly or about the existence of shelters.
To erase those fears, The Multilingual Disaster Support Center provides relief and necessary information to foreign nationals in cooperation with government agencies, various consulates, and volunteer organizations.
In Japan, disaster drills are conducted from elementary school so knowledge and awareness about disasters is acquired in childhood; however, there are not many countries abroad which do disaster drills.
At the Sapporo International Communication Plaza, we provide opportunities to let foreigners know about the bare-minimum information you need to know when living in a country with many disasters like Japan.
We created the Pocket-sized Disaster Guide along with the City of Sapporo, in which basic information such as what to do first when an earthquake hits, what an evacuation shelter is, etc., is compiled in one place. Written in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, and Russian. Download it here
Sapporo Citizen Disaster Prevention Center conducts visits where you can experience earthquakes and fire extinguishers together with foreign language volunteers, and holds several events per year to help people learn while enjoying knowledge of disaster prevention and behaviors during disasters.
Due to the increase in foreigners who live in Japan, it is no longer uncommon for neighbors to be foreigners. Among this group, some foreigners have difficulty understanding difficult Japanese such as that in the news and newspapers, even if they do not worry about everyday Japanese conversation. Also, Japanese used in times of disaster is often not used often in other circumstances and there are many words not familiar to foreigners. (ex: Telephone service is currently "futsu". Which meaning is applicable here? Futsu as in "suspended" or "Futsu" as in "normal"?)
Foreigners become "persons requiring special assistance" due to their inability to understand the information disseminated by administrative officials in times of disaster. However, at the same time, there are many young generations of foreigners who have sufficient understanding of Japanese. It is also very importance for them to know what exists to help them in times of crisis.
Every year since fiscal year 2006, foreign residents have participated alongside Japanese in the Sapporo City Disaster Mitigation Drills held in accordance with the Disaster Prevention Day on September 1st every year. While participating with Neighborhood association and elementary/middle school students in the area in bucket relay and other training, participants have the opportunity to interact with each other and raise mutual awareness of "assistance".
In response to requests from local fire departments etc., citizens participate in rescue training based around the possibility that foreigners may not understand Japanese.
Bus tours where Japanese and foreigners alike can participate and learn about disasters while enjoying interacting with each other are currently underway.
The goal is to make Sapporo strong in the face of disaster through creating "visible relationships" and helping foreign residents collaborate as urban developers.
Simple Japanese is simpler than normally used Japanese and is easy for foreigners to understand as well. Since it was difficult to provide information to foreign victims at the time of the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake, "simple Japanese" was developed as a means of communicating information on disasters.
Since it is impossible to translate necessary information into all native languages to convey, communication using "simple Japanese" as a common language is shown to be effective and it currently is expected that it will be used by administrations when discussing information on living in Japan and sightseeing as well.