A Pandemic Survival Hack for Foreigners in Japan: Easy Japanese

easy japanese

With a goal to help foreigners survive in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of students from the Global Japanese Studies at Meiji University in Tokyo initiated a movement called Easy Japanese to aid foreigners who are not fluent in either Japanese or English in Japan be adequately informed about the government’s safety and evacuation guidelines in times of calamities. This is by providing easy to follow and understand guidelines during catastrophes in a form of instructional videos.

The language barrier is a primary factor that causes foreigners in Japan to fail to survive catastrophes since most of the guidelines are given in complicated Japanese terms which is too difficult for foreigners to comprehend. 

This initiative started in the wake of the Great Hanshin Earthquake that destroyed Kobe in western Japan and neighboring areas in 1995. A great number of foreigners suffered because they failed to obtain necessary information due to the language barrier.

 A group of nine third-year students from a seminar organized by Social and Cultural Diversity professor Keizo Yamawaki at the School of Global Japanese Studies at Meiji University in Tokyo started creating foreigner-friendly instructional videos. 

These videos have four types that span around two to four minutes. These videos would talk about and introduce multilingual call centers that foreigners can contact when they are in a dire need of support especially in times of depression due to loss of job or concerns about health during the pandemic.

Another video talks about necessary information on how one can apply for a loan to cover living expenses and how to take advantage of subsidies to help pay for rent due to loss or drop in income because of the pandemic. 

These videos were created to be understood by foreigners and are in a form of illustrations and words alongside phonetic characters to assist in reading. 

The videos were completed last June of 2020 after a series of revisions with the help of the industry experts in the government.

These videos made by the students are indeed very helpful and were very much simplified making it easier for foreigners to comprehend. These types of videos are very helpful according to Kazumi Hamba, an administrative office head of Filipino Nagkaisa, a nonprofit organization that supports Filipinos who live in the suburbs of the City of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Central Japan.  He believes that these videos are essential since the number of foreign permanent residents is increasing in Japan.

Since Japanese information used at information counters in Japan are undeniably tricky to understand, Easy Japanese is a great tool not just for foreigners but as well as to locals. 

Content and Image Reference/Credits: https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200721/p2a/00m/0na/021000c

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