Osaka to provide multilingual disaster information for foreigners


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Why does providing information have everything to do with a tax and nothing to do with your job? It’s not that hard to provide information in more than one language.

Hire me Matsui.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Another excuse for clawing in more taxes. Also, I'm sure most people won't be inclined to give out their email or bother with registration at all. At best you'll probably receive an unintelligible Google translation of necessary information.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Governor Matsui should be cleaning up KIX with a broom instead of closing the barn door! How about he lays on free buses for all the people returning that can’t use KIX?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

zatoizugoodoToday  06:59 am JST

At best you'll probably receive an unintelligible Google translation of necessary information.

An excellent point. All too often when it comes to Japanese "translations", the person doing the translating feels like their job is done when they have English on the page - it's not their concern if that English is utterly incomprehensible to English speakers.

Though if the concern is tourists, then I would bet Chinese is the more important language to have information available in.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The “English” information sites on public transport and general city information is often unintelligible.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Just an excuse for a quick tax cash grab under the guise of “safety”. You would of thought will all the stupid levels of government expenditure that systems like they’re proposing would already be in place.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Hopefully, this information will be professionally translated and not just junior high school jibberish or straight up Googlish. However, due to the fact there is going to be a tax involved, I have no doubt it is about getting money and not about providing clear information in foreign languages. Therefore, I am sure this will just be the cheapest translations they can do. RE: Googlish

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It's only been 14 years or so since Osaka lost the bid for 2008 Olympics with this being one of the key reasons, so why not start now? Honestly... I know that they Don't want to showcase Japan being extremely prone to natural disasters when advertising and asking to increase tourists to gripe about every year, but why does Japan ALWAYS wait until after disasters to do such obvious things. People who have been here for décades, and even longer, and have been in disasters, have been saying this for ages. There are lots of individuals willing to volunteer and try and help, but the government has Always just nodded and dragged their feet. When I asked my local City Hall if I could take part in disaster training in one Community as an example of a foreigner who didn't speak the lingo and was injured, confused, etc., I was told, "Thank you. It's a good idea, but unfortunately it has already been planned out and we would have to coordinate with other volunteers, get a translator, and fill out paperwork and get it approved..." You know, all things that would happen in reality.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The next task at that airport is to think about "drainage" to let water escape (especially at taxi-ways) I saw at that moment of high tide and typhoon approaching, and the information on internet and all media the flights be all cancelled before typhoon coming, accommodations to be much prepared to reserve more people and avoid cancellations fee and cheaper cost at hotels and guest houses. The east side to get information from southwestern part of Japan to avoid all those problems would happen when Typhoons come. The southwestern part of Japan locations are more prepared as the trajectory of typhoon always have been around there. I live in Fukuoka I know the flights are cancelled a day before and informed in all media streams.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just hire one person, create a webpage in English and Chinese. JR has an English information webpage which I used during the last typhoon. Not so hard to do for Osaka city.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Multi-lingual info in 2018? Really?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Maybe they need to take a look at some of the Apps already out there.

I have "Japan Shelter". Which is in Japanese but now has a translate button. Gives info on warning and disaster events in the area you are in. Also shows on a map the local shelters. Once you get into it there are links to other sites for information.

The other one is " Safety Tips". This has so many links, warnings and advise.

Both Apps are in realtime.

It maybe easier for people to download these than have to think and find where to register for an Email. Better to use and develope something already out there and working. I'm sure there will be others out there just as useful.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Seriously, it is the year of 2018, we are living in the so called digital age. We have smart phones and Wifi and 4G almost everywhere. With these you still cannot find a way to translate information into other languages and get them out! This is just incompetent.

Last time I lost my bag in Kyoto JR station and had to go to a smaller station which had little tourist. The staff there spoke little English so they called someone and the lady over the phone help us to translate. A hot line can really help and I do not think it is difficult to set it up.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Why are things always planned AFTER a disaster or incident? Shouldn't there be a plan "in case stuff happens" already? Can Japan NOT plan for the future, you know, anticipate unfortunate incidents and prepare accordingly?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Shogun36, I think there are things we can plan ahead and things we only realize we badly need them after a disaster or incident. It is not fair to start blaming when we are in situations like recent incidents. I hope we all learn from them.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

To thepersoniamnow, where do you think we will get the money from to hire somebody like you? Wouldn't that have to be from some sources, such as accommodation tax? If you do not agree with how that should be done, we would appreciate your volunteering.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

@yoshisan88 - Seriously, it is the year of 2018, we are living in the so called digital age. We have smart phones and Wifi and 4G almost everywhere. 

Not without electricity you don't. Do you remember the phone networks and internet were out for nearly 8 hours after the 3/11 quake? All of Hokkaido was without power from a few hours to a few days. No apps or translation services are going to help in this situation. This information needs to be available in more than just digital format. I could not find one brochure at my local city hall that listed evacuation procedures and refuges in any foreign language. The citywide loud speaker announcements also need to be multi-lingual. Japan wants to be a modern multi-cultural country, but only for those who can speak, read and understand Japanese.

3 ( +3 / -0 )


Are you actually seriously asking me? Theres this thing called sarcasm in English that doesn’t exist much in Japanese unfortunately. Sorry you didnt get it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


I agree with what you say. According to comments from other JT readers, cell towers have backup batteries which should give enough time to boardcast the emergence message. Critical infrastructures should have some sort of emergence backups like diesel generators, batteries etc. Mobile generators can be used, too.

If the mobile network is really down. Then the good old landline phone system can be really useful (though I do not know if Japan's landline network has evolved or not). The good old radio is not dead yet.

Hotels are likely to be the place tourists ask for information and a hot line for them is a very good idea.

We are not living in the stone age. We have good old landland phone, fax, email, voice mail, skype, wireless telecom etc. I believe if you are serious about it. There is always a good way to do it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@hattorikun - I think there are things we can plan ahead and things we only realize we badly need them after a disaster or incident

So, with 2 million foreigners visiting Japan every year having emergency information in foreign languages never occurred to the Japanese government?

The risk of a severe earthquake and tsunami never occurred to the power companies even though Japan has a long history of strong earthquakes and devastating tsunamis?

Putting air conditioners into public school never occurred to the education ministry until after record temps during a summer, even though the records temps were only slightly higher than normal?

The problems associated with having all the power in Hokkaido connected to one power grid, which failed and blacked out the whole island in an earthquake never occurred to them either?

There is something called, risk management assessment that is part of any project management course but, project management is not a subject in Japanese universities. Therefore, one should not expect any kind of risk management assessment done on any Japanese engineering project. Just build it and fix it later after it kilns a few people. Perfect!

“Hindsight is 20/20” But it’s too late after people die from poor risk assessments.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Already have this in my area. No taxes required!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

hattorikun: "It is not fair to start blaming when we are in situations like recent incidents. I hope we all learn from them."

You're kidding, right? Have you ever heard of the Great Hanshin Earthquake? How about the Tohoku earthquake and disasters? How about the myriad of others in between, before, and after? The whole point of many posters here is that this should have been implemented AGES ago, and this is not "recent incidents". They have been told they need this for YEARS. So, yes, it is perfectly fair to blame them, and necessary. Here's why this is happening now: image. Osaka wants Expo 2025, and wants tourism to increase up to and after. They are embarrassed by ineptitude around the current incidents and how that might play out in the case of rewarding them with international events and being recommended as a tourist destination with full support for foreign nationals. There weren't even any multi-lingual signs in Osaka (and some train lines STILL have only Kanji at some station maps) until, as I said, they were criticized as being unfriendly to foreigners by the IOC in their failed 2008 Olympic bid, which went to China. Now, after that, you started to see signs in not only Japanese and English (or Romaji at least), but Korean and Chinese. So, perhaps denying them Expo and saying they are concerned about the current lack of multi-lingual help available in a wide range of services and mediums will speed things up a bit.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

smithinjapan: No, i was not kidding. My point is that it is very easy for all of us to sit here and say this and that should have been done ages ago. There must be things in place to minimize impact of these tragic events and unfortunately sometimes they are not enough. I think it is hard to have everything in place from the start. We learn from mistakes and grow up.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

thepersoniamnow: sarcasm was exactly what I wanted to express against your view.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Do you need a disaster to realize that you NEED MULTILINGUAL SUPPORT everywhere especially if you are promoting tourism. I am afraid if something like this happens during olympics they will keep announcing and showing all the information in Japanese and no one will understand anything. FOR GOD's SAKE get out of the Island mentality.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Goodlucktoyou: Just hire one person, create a webpage in English and Chinese. JR has an English information webpage which I used during the last typhoon. Not so hard to do for Osaka city.

This is way too logical for the Japanese system.

Instead, they first have to spend a year looking for a native English and Chinese speaker (no accent in either language, even though it's all written work), who is also fluent in Japanese and fully understands the sacred Japanese culture.

Then, that person must hand-write everything in both English/Chinese and Japanese, several times, the same thing on several different forms.

Then, another person must enter that information into a single cell in Excel, no less.

Then, someone needs to fax a print-out of the Excel form to the J bosses.

Then, after numerous meetings, those bosses collectively butcher the English/Chinese to make Japan look more "cool," thus rendering the text unintelligible, except to those fluent in Katakana English/Chinese.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


Fair enough then, sorry if I assumed you didn’t get it.

I still 100% don’t think that someone in the local government here in Osaka (and I am a citizen, born here so I care) should get the responsibility due to Osaka having pretty bad English support so far especially compared to the obvious amount of money that’s been burned.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How about just handing them a flyer at the customs and immigrations.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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