Influx of Overseas Sojourners in Japan brings about Increasing Demand in Foreign Language Services

Over the past few years, the Land of the Rising Sun has opened wider doors of opportunities for foreign nationals seeking for job employment in their country as well as international tourists who are looking forward to explore its popular sightseeing views and tourist destinations. With the recent amendments in its immigration rules, Japan aspires to attract more and more overseas travellers in the next five years.


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The tremendous influx in the number of foreigners in Japan has also brought about various challenges on the part of the government in order to cater to the special needs of international sojourners in the country. One of the most apparent issues is the language barrier between locals and foreign tourists. For instance, the Metropolitan Police Department is struggling to meet the demand for foreign language services to accommodate the inquiries and requests of overseas travellers.


Around April of 2018, the Kabukicho police station in Shinjuku Ward had to solicit information from a Chinese tourist whose mother went missing in the area. To aid in the speedy investigation of the case, the police officer asked several questions using a foreign language. Since they were able to communicate with the foreigner concerned, the issue was resolved smoothly. This case basically illustrates the need for police officers to be able to speak and understand basic foreign language especially English.


While the officers in Kabukicho station are capable of speaking English, Mandarin and other foreign languages, majority of the other police stations in Tokyo are not manned by police officers who can communicate with foreigners. Instead, foreign travellers are referred to the Metropolitan Police Department’s interpreter center. The center noted a great surge in the number of cases that require the assistance of interpreters.


According to Daisuke Hashimoto, one of the English interpreters from the center, “It is important to convey the intensity of the questioning. You need to pick up even the slightest slip of the tongue and translate everything accurately.”


Reference: Tokyo police grapple with growing demand for foreign-language services


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