quote of the day

The unavailability of information on vaccines is a common problem faced by all foreign residents of Japan with language barriers. To spread information, public administration services should work with communities of non-Japanese and their support groups, and they should also use social media platforms that are viewed by non-Japanese.


Pham Nguyen Quy, a Vietnamese doctor with the Kyoto Min-iren Chuo Hospital. Many foreign residents are facing language barriers concerning the COVID-19 vaccine program, prompting calls for simpler Japanese in notifications and instructions that non-Japanese speakers can understand.

© Asahi Shimbun

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That would take an effort though…

9 ( +9 / -0 )

In other words the same situation of most of other things in Japan, where foreign residents are routinely ignored and left to their own means.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Or foreign residents could learn Japanese. Naaaahhhhh!

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

When I got the envelope containing the coupon for the first COVID shot (which I have yet to be able to book), it was in Japanese. That figures, as they were likely sent out in bulk. The website through which reservations are (currently not) made does have an option for English, but I haven’t even looked at it for fear of how badly it will be written…

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@Some dude: and what? We are supposed to cry for you? There is SO much info on every City website I've scouted out. Just lazy.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

All prefectures and cities have vaccination information. The majority of non-Japanese read and write Japanese. The majority of non-Asian foreigners live in Tokyo.

The vaccination coupon as a QR code.


0 ( +2 / -2 )

Thank God for the Google Lens app and its translation feature - try it out , pretty helpful.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Those struggling to find vaccination info in English would be advised to follow this twitter account:


And check for clinics on her doc here:


The woman doing this is a total hero. Bravo!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Glad I have sufficient knowledge of Japanese and was able to just get my first jab. Couldn't wait for my bungling workplace. The letter had a whole list of places and suggested one vac centre in my town - thank god I was prepared as soon as registration started. Missed out on the first day because I didn't click on the confirm button fast enough - all gone in 15 seconds. Secured one for the second day. Now my shoulder feels as though there's a bruise. Second vac in a month's time. A ridiculous amount of staff there, but still grateful to them, no thanks to this incompetent government.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Or foreign residents could learn Japanese. Naaaahhhhh!

many of those foreigners are here on temporary or short term visa, with very little chance of permanent residence or citizenship or even a path required to get those. should a foreigner invest in Japanese language when the country itself really has no interest to invest in long term residency for them? Naaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I did not know disorganized and uncaring the rest of Japan regarding the vaccination of foreigners and most likely Japanese as well.

I've mentioned before that I live in a progressive city of which we have a progressive and caring mayor. This mayor wanted to have everyone in town vaccinated. So he made a schedule for every resident in every district on a certain day and hour be vaccinated. The medical staff were efficient and friendly. Each second jab was about a month after the first jab. The second jab kicked in totally after two weeks.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Considering how disorganised and chaotic booking for vaccinations is at the moment, anything in a foreign language I see as a superhuman feat at the moment.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I have to give Yokohama credit for preparing everything in 4 languages, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and English. Website links and QR code for access. The instructions for vaccination and the pre-vaccination questionnaire followed exactly the same format in each language, making it easy to complete, and for the vaccination staff to follow. Brazilian and Tagalog would have been useful for the other major language groups here.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

yes it may be challenging for those who wants be vaccinated...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

No, that’s absolutely not true. They have really made much efforts to make websites and pdf documents accessible in many languages, especially here, regarding the vaccinations. Or if really someone is from an exotic language area and also not capable of English or basics in other than the many provided languages, then you can still hold your smartphone with google lens activated over the documents and read it almost as if it were made directly in your country. Or finally, how about when being in Japan learning some Japanese, not perfectly but sufficiently, or developing some own ideas and methods for communication, instead of making such wrong and selfish accusations?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Yamato City in Kanagawa had English and other language QR codes for four languages. They probably should have said though look in your junk mail box for the response back when you applied. Of course way to many words for something so simple to do, but they tried.

The bear was for non-Japanese speakers to select a venue that was only Japanese and to go there and deal with none speaking a lick of English. I had no problems and learned some new and important general population medical lingo. But they tried.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you live in Japan you must learn the language of the land, period. Japan is under no obligation to produce documents in languages other than Japanese.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Good to hear from the Vietnamese doctor stating the obvious that needs to be stated because it doesn't seem to be obvious to so many policy makers and officials at all levels of J Govt. Including your local govt which is supposed to give you some consideration in return for all the taxes you pay. Foreign residents are taxpayers, too - remember?

I live in a ward that has a relatively high number of foreign residents compared to some other wards yet the Covid-19 information I received was all in Japanese.

Health matters should be of highest importance for everyone regardless of their background but it also included an anketo that confused some foreign residents I know who do speak and read some Japanese but are not anything like the level needed to read this kind of information quickly and confidently fill out a medical survey.

This is the 21st century and Japan is part of the global community, has been effectively that since the 1980s.

English is recognised as the international language of the world partly due to history and partly because its writing system is so simple unlike Chinese, Japanese and Arabic to give only three examples. If English was not a compulsory subject taught in Japanese schools at JHS and HS level then maybe there might be some excuse for the lack of English information at local govt and other levels.

The same stubborn dynamic of not providing accessible information in the global language understood by many is at work for tax matters at local govt level as well. While the actual tax offices have some English and other language printed guidance, the people at city hall that charge you all that residents tax and health insurance somehow think it's fine to provide just about zero information in English or other languages.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I need to add that I live in one of the Tokyo wards, not in a far flung prefecture or the countryside.

Some of these city offices seem to be somewhere else when it comes to the 21st century. Heard first-hand true accounts of foreigner friends and acquaintances who need to discuss serious matters of health insurance and tax at their city offices but none of the workers/officials there are designated English speakers.

So they have to wait while somebody hunts around for someone in city hall who is willing to speak English and assist the foreigner. City health insurance and residents tax sections also withhold key info from foreign residents through this insistence on letters and information in Japanese. For example, some Japanese have delayed payments or won't pay at all during the Covid-19 pandemic but access to this information is not given in other languages to foreign residents.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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