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East Japan local gov't offers multilingual pandemic info for foreign residents

The One-Stop Consultation Center for Foreign Residents of Gunma, a help desk for foreign residents that has temporarily suspended face-to-face consultations, is seen at the Gunma Prefectural Government headquarters on April 17, 2020. (Mainichi/Atsuko Suzuki)(Mainichi/Atsuko Suzuki)

MAEBASHI -- Gunma Prefecture is looking to support its foreign residents during the novel coronavirus pandemic by posting information in multiple languages on its website about consultation services and the government request for people to keep outings to a minimum.

There were over 60,000 foreigners living in the eastern Japan prefecture northwest of Tokyo as of December 2019, accounting for about 3% of the population. When the prefectural government issued a warning to all residents and stay-home and other requests, it also prepared translations in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese, plus an easy Japanese version. It put these on its website and requested schools and businesses to distribute the information.

However, few prefectural municipalities have posted the translations on their own websites. A person connected to a foreign resident support group pointed out that "there are some people who hesitate to consult the authorities due to the language barrier or their financial situation." The prefectural government plans to develop support for its foreign residents.

Multilingual information about the novel coronavirus pandemic is seen in Maebashi on April 19, 2020. (Mainichi/Atsuko Suzuki)

The One-Stop Consultation Center for Foreign Residents of Gunma, a help desk for foreign residents at the prefectural government headquarters, has temporarily suspended face-to-face consultations to prevent infections, and is responding to queries by phone and email.

The translated coronavirus information can be accessed at:

(Japanese original by Atsuko Suzuki, Maebashi Bureau)

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