HAMAMATSU is known for its large foreign resident population with around 23,000 non-Japanese residents living in the city. The population is made up of people from countries such as the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Peru, and Brazil. In particular, the Brazilian population in Hamamatsu is the largest of any city in Japan.
Since Japan does not have a concrete immigration policy in place, local governments do not have proper systems set up to welcome and support migrants as residents. Against this backdrop, Hamamatsu has been implementing various initiatives as part of its inclusive policies. These initiatives include the provision of Japanese language education, multilingual consultation services for everyday living, and initiatives regarding the education of children of foreign residents.
As part of these initiatives, Hamamatsu City will have tablets that can provide interpretation in 12 languages available at city hall service counters to facilitate problem-free support of foreign residents. This system will allow service counter employees and foreign residents to communicate by connecting them to remote interpreters through their video call feature. This support system was introduced last June and will be used until March 2019 to test for the quality of interpretation and the frequency of tablet utilization. The city will also work towards creating a more polished system for the next fiscal year.
Furthermore, the city will begin a training program for city hall employees this August to improve their ability to handle service counter interactions with foreign residents. The Japanese language has lots of difficult words and expressions so the program will span six training sessions per year and will teach employees how to use simpler wording in Japanese to communicate with foreign residents.
Hamamatsu City will work on these new communication support initiatives in addition to its other initiatives and promote inclusiveness and community building by taking advantage of the diversity brought by foreign residents.