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Tokyo gov't launches coronavirus helpline in 14 languages for foreign residents

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is seen in the capital's Shinjuku Ward in this March 5, 2019, file photo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- A helpline available in 14 languages for foreign residents living in Tokyo who have questions and concerns related to novel coronavirus issues was launched by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government on April 17.

The toll-free number is available in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Indonesian, Tagalog, Thai, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Khmer, Burmese and easy Japanese. Depending on the nature of the query, the line's operators will connect callers to public health centers, labor consultation centers and other specialist organizations.

Called Tokyo Coronavirus Support Center for Foreign Residents (TOCOS), the number is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and can be reached on 0120-296-004.

According to the metropolitan government, the capital is home to some 577,000 foreign residents. Support groups have been receiving queries from foreign nationals about education, employment and other issues. Many of those coming forward have lamented there is nowhere for those who can't speak Japanese to turn.

The head of the metropolitan government's department for promotion of intercultural cohesion said, "We want to fulfill the role of being a hub for support, and do away with the idea that because people are foreign nationals support won't reach them."

(Japanese original by Mei Nammo, City News Department)

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