Experts Recommend Simpler and More Understandable Disaster Advisories in Japan

Over the years, the Land of the Rising has become more open to international sojourners and overseas workers in the country. More and more foreigners are interested to come to Japan especially with the recent enactment of the Revised Immigration Law. The law relaxes the stringent immigration policies particularly for designated skilled workers in the fourteen sectors identified by the Japanese government.


In view of the increasing number of international immigrants in Japan, it is incumbent upon the government to provide for well translated advisories and travel guides that can be easily understood by foreigners in order to help them integrate into the Japanese society.


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However, during the Disaster Prevention Day in Japan last September 1, 2019, communication experts pointed out that disaster advisories are complicated and difficult to comprehend not only on the part of foreign tourists and immigrants but even for Japanese speakers.


Professor Isao Iori at the Center for Global Education of Tokyo’s Hitotsubashi University noted that it is hard for foreign nationals to prepare for natural calamities that may strike Japan because of the difficulty of understanding government disaster advisories. Iori, together with other experts urges Japanese officials through social media to improve their messaging and information dissemination to accommodate foreign nationals in the country.


According to Professor Iori, “Many non-Japanese have never experienced an earthquake and don’t share the common knowledge Japanese people do on what to expect in the aftermath of an earthquake.”


During his discussion on disaster communication methods, Iori highlighted that simple translation of terms is not sufficient to aid foreigners in taking action during an emergency since the advisory does not contain salient information on what to do and when.


Professor Iori made it a point that “simplifying words shouldn’t be priority. The most important thing is whether the content of the message is understandable — it requires consideration toward the recipients.”


Reference: Japan’s emergency advisories are too complex and hard to understand, even for fluent Japanese speakers, experts say


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