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Japan to issue disaster response guidelines for foreign tourists

25 Comments

The Japan Tourism Agency plans to issue multilingual guidelines for disaster response for foreign tourists in Japan. The agency said it will work closely with local governments and tourism centers around the country.

As the number of foreign visitors to Japan continues to increase (more than 10 million so far this year), so too do the number of individuals who have little or no knowledge of what to do in the event of an earthquake, tsunami or major volcanic eruption. The agency said on its website that foreign tourists who have never experienced an earthquake, for example, may panic.

The new guidelines require tourism centers to provide information regarding disaster response and how to find shelters during an emergency in multilingual formats. Centers will also be equipped with non-perishable food provisions, including halal food for Muslim tourists.

In an effort to prevent widespread panic and potential loss of life, the agency has created a number of easy to follow guidelines for foreigners regarding disaster response with sentences like, “ Protect your head and take shelter under a sturdy table or desk,” and “In the event of an evacuation, under no circumstances should you try and use an elevator.”

Municipalities across the country are collecting information regarding multilingual persons capable of on-the-spot interpretation as well as moving toward the establishment of systems to support medical examinations in various languages.

The agency also said on its website that a free phone app titled “Safety tips” will provide emergency reports in the event of an earthquake, tsunami or other disaster.

© Japan Today

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25 Comments
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Prepare for disasters, sure sounds like a very sensible.

"including halal food for Muslim tourists."

seriously? why does Japan seem so eager to engage with this ideology?

18 ( +23 / -5 )

Disaster often strikes suddenly and without warning, leaving those in its wake dazed, injured and desperately in need of medical attention. You never really know where the problems are in a plan or a checklist.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

seriously? why does Japan seem so eager to engage with this ideology?

Because there's money to be made... Nota bene that this sudden caring style is for tourists, ie not any residents who might be helped by foreign language instructions. Again, money.

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

Well, it won't hurt informing tourists I guess. Seems reasonable.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Kosher and Halal are very similar, to the extent that most Kosher foods can be eaten with a clear conscience by Muslims, and vice-versa.

And there is no Christian (or, as far as I'm aware, Buddhist or Shinto) prohibition on eating either Kosher or Halal foods.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Nice information

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There are potentially humane reasons to not support halal meat anyway, but that's not what this about.

If it costs one yen more to buy this "ideology" friendly food I can't support that, and don't want my tax going to placate and in a way normalize the what is essentially just a personal choice.

People deserve respect, ideas not necessarily.

I don't care what Christians or Buddhist or Shinto ideas are on what is the best food for an emergency either. I want the advice of science based, nutritionalists and scientists for what provides the best option for healthy food for long term storage.

We need a world built on reason, evidence and human rights, if someone has a very specific non medical food requirement they should be organizing that for themselves.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Readers, please don’t get fixated on one phrase in the story about halal food. That is not what this story is about overall.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The new guidelines require tourism centers to provide information regarding disaster response and how to find shelters during an emergency in multilingual formats.

That's nice, but who is going to read that information? They will have their hands full just finding a place to eat with no smoking.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Who will be responsible to inform visitors when they arrive? Will this be just a pamphlet given at the port of entry? After all, it's the responsibility of the tourist to inform themselves of all "peculiarities" about the country they are visiting and seeking further information can be make at information kiosks that are staffed by professionals.

If a tourist where to explore a bit and find themselves in a less-than-popular area of Japan, it would be nice to be able to ask someone at the main train station or city hall where the nearest shelter is. A map would be extremely useful, not just for tourist sites, but adding medical and emergency services, such as shelters would be a plus.

I visit the Sanriku Coast every year and I often wonder if something were to happen again, (here's to hoping it never does) how ready would I be if I were just to walk around trying to find these places? I'm sure the locals, seeing someone who is obviously a foreigner, would try to get the message across by pointing or motioning someone in the proper direction. I've seen that on 3/11/11 videos on youtube.

If the information is disseminated to local authorities to be included in their tourist information guides or maps, then it's a great idea!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I used to live on the coast where there is risk of tsunami, and what I really wanted to know was the whereabouts of hinanjo or safe places to evacuate to. "go uphill" is common sense but the little town had zero info in English. Residents get those maps when you register an address but tourists don't. Posters/maps in train stations would be nice perhaps, or hotels could cooperate with such info readily available in various languages.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sadly, even many Japanese people, teachers and officials still need to be educated about tsunami evacuation procedures. So many children and adults died needlessly on the worlds most tsunami-prone stretch of coast back in 2011.

Kudos to the ministry for attempting to educate tourists on these risks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Municipalities across the country are collecting information regarding multilingual persons capable of on-the-spot interpretation as well as moving toward the establishment of systems to support medical examinations in various languages." Really what municipalities? I haven't seen any literature or been asked for such interpretation at any municipality here in Japan by any staff? Where is JT getting this information from that others are not? I have even asked staff members at municipalities throughout Japan who work or have spouses working and they didn't even know about any such plan, here in Tokyo, Aomori, Nagano, Kanagawa as far south as Hiroshima. JT where are you getting this information.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I think it's a great idea. I'd like to receive the information from each hotel I visit. That would be the easiest and make the most efficient way to distribute the information. For visitors not accustomed to earthquakes or tsunamis in their area of the world, evacuation information for the particular neighbourhood they are in would be useful.

In addition, exactly what to do in an earthquake would be helpful as would recordings of the various warning sirens' sounds. How would a visitor from abroad distinguish those from other emergency noise? Ambulances and police cars are different in many jurisdictions. These could easily be put be on apps for mobile phones and include earthquake warnings right from the phone.

During the time I've spent in Japan, beyond taking cover under a desk or in a doorway, I have not known what I should do or where I should go. On a documentary I learned that sliding balcony doors should be opened to facilitate rescue from a balcony. (Doors jam in earthquakes. Who knew? Only the experienced which I am not.)

While travelling in Japan I've often thought about how ill-prepared I am should a disaster strike. My best strategy would be to follow other people, but more to go on than that would be helpful.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A thoughtful move on the part of the Japanese government. Omoiyari and kikubari, that is the Japan style at its best.

And how wonderful to think of preparing Halal food, which is kosher to eat for Muslims. With Indonesia, having the largest number of Muslims of any nation in the world, Japan has strong historical-political and business connections. Indonesia is the largest recipient of Japan's foreign aid, about 1 billion per year.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

One, I hope it is in more languages than just English. With all the Arab people entering Japan I have yet to fins any information in either Arabic or Farsi. Many seem to think, "All foreigners speak English." I have a German neighbor who speaks little English and many Japanese still miss the fact he is speaking fluent Japanese to them not English.

Two, while this seems well and good I am concerned if this information will be an actual translation and not generated from a translation engine. Here in Nagoya there are city signs reading eveywhere, "For the beneficial environs walking of pet items is strict for prohibiting for these areas and around you." I guess walking leashes and food dishes are a no no. While funny, in an emergency one has no time to retranslate what was supposedly translated. Just like the Japan Tobacco posters everywhere, most are clearly void of meaning.

Finally, will this continue after the Olympics or will all the translated material be throw out. They did this during the 2002 World Cup. Then all the hotels and public facilities got rid of their emergency evacuation manuals in English and Korean.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I used to live on the coast where there is risk of tsunami, and what I really wanted to know was the whereabouts of hinanjo or safe places to evacuate to. "go uphill" is common sense but the little town had zero info in English. Residents get those maps when you register an address but tourists don't. Posters/maps in train stations would be nice

In Shizuoka I have seen evacuation building guides along the beach, and at the nearest station and the buildings have a sign indicating as well. They have basic info in English, Korean and Chibese I believe, and pictures of a man running from a wave. Also the whole city has been marked for meterw above sea level. I think most of Japan probably did the same after 3-11

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kyushubill: It says multilingual in the first line of the story, so I'm guessing yes, it is in more than just English. As for continuing after the Olympics, my guess is that at worst information at the time of publication will be kept and not updated, but hopefully they will continue to update any information that is updated in Japanese in various other languages.

Anyway, this is better late than never, and with the cheap yen and influx of visitors, and obviously with the 2020 Olympics in mind, this is only good. Here's hoping they improve on current multilingual information not just for tourists, but for foreign residents as well. It's getting better, especially with smart phones being able to receive information (granted, mostly in Japanese) on emergencies from local governments as well as Embassies.

NZ: Why CAN'T they keep Halal meet and be inclusive, instead of exclusive as you suggest they should be? There is an increase in Arab tourists to Japan, and the Olympics are coming, and more and more services are introducing Halal options for those who desire it. Lest we forget Muslims make up a quarter of the world's population, and while they don't make up much of Japan's, that population, and the number of Muslim tourists, are increasing.

"why does Japan seem so eager to engage with this ideology?"

And that is why you undermine your own comments. If some right-wing politicians had their way, nothing you espouse would be welcome or included in emergency information either; fortunately there are more who care about others.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

This is a good idea and I'm sure it will help many people who come to Japan as tourists.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The new guidelines require tourism centers to provide information regarding disaster response and how to find shelters during an emergency in multilingual formats. Centers will also be equipped with non-perishable food provisions, including halal food for Muslim tourists. Jews can't eat halal meat and muslims can't eat kosher meat since both involve different religions and prayers when the animals are killed.

That could be a major problem depending on the type and extent of the disaster because all halal and kosher foods, including meats are imported. Its against the law to have a halal or kosher slaughterhouse.

Tourists would need to receive the emergency info at their airport arrivals so would that mean more time getting through the systems?

When staying at any hotel, regardless of the county, I always check the fire exists and I make sure I know now to escape from my room. If I find locked exist doors I complain to the management and would even move to another hotel if they didn't unlock the exit doors.

It's also good to know your immediate location and where safe open places are.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan to issue disaster response guidelines for foreign tourists

Kind of frightening if this has not been thought of and done before already.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Smith, I care very much for people. Which is why I am concerned.

I have considered, should I have the money and time, to offer or suggest to my ward office that non-japanese speakers, and japanese citizens of course if they want them, be offered a wallet sized card in multiple languages with the emegency services numbers and a small print out of the nearest emergency evaluation point.

In my previous ward office they had a pretty good amount of info in a booklet they handed out but of course you aren't likely to have that with you in an emegency if you aren't at home.

I've often thought, as I travel quite a bit, it would be a nice option when arriving in a new country at immigration.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why hasn't Japan Today posted the story about the foreigner detained in Haneda Airport who came on a flight from Liberia where the known Ebola virus epidemic is occurring. The man a 40 something year old, is now at the Research Center but Japan news has said nothing to other foreigners in Japan. This is of huge concern to foreigners not just Japanese. And if the moderator removes this post then he is guilty of not disseminating information to the foreigners as the articles mentions doing as a goal. So this is very much on topic about getting information to everyone. What about the other passengers on that same flight. Were they allowed to come into the country and if infected wow..huge problem, as most people here like to sneeze without covering up or using masks as Ebola is airborne through water droplets in sneezing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why not spend more effort looking after the interests of foreign taxpaying residents instead? We can't vote so we don't count?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Don't know if special food has been provided before (considerate) but disaster advice has been available at lots of (most?) international centers, even in the country, since year dot.

And there's plenty of multi-lingual advice online too. Granted not all languages are represented, but I can't recall any country where they are.

Agree a pamphlet would be good at the airport. (I could say the same for anywhere. One does travel at one's own risk though)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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