- If a major disaster occurs in Sapporo - "Multilingual Disaster Support Center "
- "Building a supportive city" - SICPF disaster prevention project
- Column: "Easy Japanese" to use when disaster strikes
In times of large scale disaster,
SICPF serves as the
Multilingual Disaster Support Center.
In the 2013 Fiscal year, SICPF joined the City of Sapporo on the "Agreement on
the Establishment and Management of the Multilingual Disaster Support Center" and assumed that role.
What is the Multilingual Disaster Support Center?
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 they 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.
What the Center Does
Provides disaster information (large earthquakes, heavy rains, flooding, tsunamis, etc.) in simple Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, etc. through email, on the homepage, and through SNS messaging.
You can consult in a foreign language (at information counter, telephone, e-mail, etc.) and use the internet.
Staff from the center visit evacuation shelters to listen to and assist foreign national evacuees.
Useful links in case of disaster
Building a city that is supportive in times of crisis
Raising disaster awareness for foreigners
In Japan, disaster drills are conducted by elementary schools and other facilities, and knowledge and awareness of disasters are acquired from a young age. However, abroad, some countries do not conduct disaster drills.
At SICPF, we provide opportunities for foreigners to know basic information on disasters that we think is the bare minimum you should know while living in Japan, a country with many disasters.
Raising awareness for Japanese
In recent years, the number of foreigners who live in Japan is increasing, and it is not uncommon for someone's neighbor to be a forienger. Some foreigners have difficulty understanding difficult Japanese, such as the kind used in news and newspapers, although they have no problem with everyday conversation. In particular, Japanese used at times of disasters tend to be used less often, and words that are unfamiliar to foreigners are often used (eg. trains are currently "futsu" (Futsu has two meanings in Japanese, so which is it? "Futsu" as in "normal"? Or as in "interrupted"?)). As such, Foreigners become persons requiring special consideration because they can not understand the information disseminated by the administration and other outlets in the event of a disaster. (Column: "Easy Japanese" for use in time of disaster)
At the same time, however, there are many younger generations among foreigners and many people can understand Japanese well. It is important for Japanese people to know about such foreign residents so they can forge a relationship based on mutual support in case of emergency.
Sapporo Citizen Disaster Prevention Center tour
Several times a year we hold tours to the Sapporo Citizen Disaster Prevention Center where participants can experience simulated earthquakes, have hands-on practice with fire extinguishers, and do many other activities where they can learn about disaster prevention and what to do in times of disaster while having fun alongside foreign language volunteers.
Participation in Sapporo Comprehensive Disaster Drills
Since the 2006 Fiscal Year, we've been participating alongside foriegners in the Sapporo City Comprehensive Disaster Preparedness Training conducted in accordance with the Disaster Prevention Day on September 1 every year. While conducting relief and fire extinguishing drills with neighborhood associations and elementary and junior high school students in the area, we also have opportunities for mutual exchanges between participants and to gain awareness of mutual assistance.
Implementation of various training (emergency relief, 119 notification etc.)
For the foreign population, which includes many young generations, having correct knowledge of disasters means that they won't be persons requiring special consideration, but rather can be actively involved in the community.
Through practical training such as emergency relief and calling 119, we also intend to raise people's interest in disasters and train future human resources to be more actively involved in times of disaster in Sapporo.
Cooperation with community disaster drills and rescue training
In response to requests from the local fire departments and other institutions, we participate in training activities where staff practice rescuing foreigners, assuming they cannot understand Japanese.
Column: "Easy Japanese" for use in time of disaster
Easy 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, "easy Japanese" was developed as a means of communicating information on disasters.
Since it is impossible to translate and convey necessary information into all languages, communication using "easy 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.
How to communicate with easy Japanese
- Shorten sentences and use simple structures.
- Add furigana, insert word dividers by separating phrases with margins.
Example: 地震の揺れで壁に亀裂が入ったりしている建物 (Lit. "A building which has cracks in the walls due to shaking of the earthquake")
Should be written as:⇒ 「地震（じしん）で 壊れた 建物」 (Lit. "A building broken by the earthquake")
- Paraphrase difficult words into simple words.
Example: 避難所 ("evacuation center") ⇒ にげるところ ("a place you escape to")
- Sentences should all be placed in です(desu), ます(masu), and してください (shitekudasai) form.
- Avoid katakana loan words and romaji.
- Do not use mimetic words (onomatopeia) such as ぐちゃぐちゃ (gucha gucha) or こっそり (kosori).