The Yomiuri Shimbun Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward has introduced a new interpretation system that foreign residents can use to receive help with administrative procedures or consult with staff.
Under the new system, an interpreter translates conversations by video phone on a tablet. Services are available in 12 languages.
As of April 1, about 41,000 foreigners lived in the ward, making up over 10 percent of its population. There are many schools and companies in the ward, which has so far stationed consultants who can speak English, Chinese and Korean at the main ward office building.
At the ward’s Multicultural Plaza, consultations in Thai, Nepalese and Burmese are available once a week.
In addition to these six languages, the new system includes Vietnamese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog and Hindi. These 12 languages are expected to cover the language needs of about 95 percent of the foreigners who live in the ward.
The ward has five devices for the system. The main ward office and the first satellite office share one device, and the second satellite office and the Multicultural Plaza have one each. The ward’s four public health centers share two devices.
The system “will improve the overall quality of services at the counters, as it can ease the concerns of foreigners and make procedures go more smoothly,” said an official of the Multicultural Society Promotion Division.Speech