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Int'l residents, Japanese volunteers in Fukuoka join 'easy English' workshop for disasters

At the "easy English workshop," participants enact a scene in which a foreigner, center, asks for help, as seen in Fukuoka's Chuo Ward on Jan. 29, 2023 (Mainichi/Azusa Yamazaki)

FUKUOKA -- Aiming to better convey information to foreigners during times of emergency, a seminar including a workshop on speaking in "easy English" was held in this southwestern Japan city late last month.

    At the "assisting foreigners when disasters strike" seminar, held by the Fukuoka International Exchange Foundation at the Acros Fukuoka facility on Jan. 29, 32 attendees, including Japanese and foreign-born people living in the city of Fukuoka and beyond, played out a scenario of a major earthquake striking the city, using simple English for communication between the Japanese and foreign nationals. Japanese participants acted as volunteers patrolling the disaster-struck areas, listening to the problems reported by foreign residents and tourists from seven countries including China, South Korea and the U.K., such as, "My arm is wounded," and, "I can't contact my family," guiding them using the information on notice boards and other means. In the scenario, some foreign people could only speak the language of their home countries.

    A Fukuoka resident in his 40s who spoke with people from Ukraine said, "People's worries and troubles differ by nationality and culture. Now that I know some foreigners in Japan can't speak English, I'd like to think of how I can respond."

    In another workshop, Andrew Mitchell, 38, the U.K.-born representative of "Kumamoto Earthquake Experience Project," an international students' group in Kumamoto that thinks about issues relating to disaster management for foreigners, talked about his disaster experience. The Fukuoka Regional Headquarters of the Japan Meteorological Agency also gave a lecture about quakes and tsunami.

    (Japanese original by Azusa Yamazaki, Kyushu News Department)

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