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Cards for foreigners in case of evacuation

November 19, 2012


Tokyo's Hachioji creates disaster evacuation cards in multiple languages



The Hachioji International Association in suburban Tokyo has created help cards in multiple languages to assist foreigners in finding evacuation sites in case of disaster.

The cards include spaces to write the language one is using, one's blood type and one's embassy phone number, and are available in Japanese, English, Chinese, Spanish and Korean. They come together with maps to the 17 evacuation centers in the city.

According to the Hachioji Municipal Government, there are around 9,000 foreigners in the city from 94 countries. After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, local officials were contacted by foreigners saying they did not understand the way to evacuation shelters or didn't know when rolling blackouts would occur.

Following deliberations that started in summer last year, a support center for foreigners was set up within the international association, and it was also decided to send translation volunteers to evacuation shelters in case of disaster. The evacuation cards and maps were created in September this year, and 5,000 sets were printed.

There are around 150 people at the evacuation center helping with translation in seven languages, but only around 30 are expected to be able to help at evacuation shelters, so the association intends to hire more people.

"In addition to conducting recruitments and training, we will distribute the cards to foreigners and prepare against disasters," said association head Ken Saito.

The cards can be obtained at the association or at the city office. There are also plans to distribute the cards at temples and mosques.


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