Foreign Resident Support in the Event of a Disaster

1.Multilingual Disaster Support Desk                       

The Multilingual Disaster Support Desk was established and operates with the goal to provide necessary information in multiple foreign languages and “Easy Japanese” as well as responding to various queries to support foreign residents in the event of large scale disasters.
Establishing Organization: Iwate Prefecture, Operating Organization: Iwate International Association (International Exchange Center Management and Operation Business Trustee)

2.Iwate Multilingual Disaster Supporters

Iwate Multilingual Disaster Supporters are being certified in order to provide support to foreigners in their native languages. These supporters are instated to prevent situations where foreign residents cannot properly evacuate in the event of a disaster, or support cannot be given in places such as evacuation centers due to a difference in language or culture.

Activity Description               

What you should independently do

In the event of a disaster, please guide any foreigners nearby and support them.
For example, helping a nearby foreigner evacuate, pass on any information and supporting the foreigners living in the region (Becoming a contact person)

What you will be requested to do

Translating and interpreting upon request from related organizations:
1. Working at the Multilingual Disaster Support Desk (Interpreting queries from foreigners, interpreting in interviewing surveys, responding to inquiries from other countries, transmitting information in different languages)
2. Working on requests from disaster related organizations or support groups (translation or interpretation requests from local municipalities, translation or interpretation requests from international organizations/NGO, etc...)

Current number of supporters registered

As of 2023, there are 36 people registered as Iwate Multilingual Disaster Supporters.

Breakdown by language
Available languages Number of people
English 30
Chinese 5
Malay 1

※There are people registered who can speak multiple foreign languages

Certification Criteria

(1) You must be registered with the Iwate International Network.
(2) You must be able to perform your activities in Iwate Prefecture. (You must either be a resident in Iwate, or be working or attending a school in Iwate)
(3) Your foreign language level must be higher than conversational. (If your native language is not Japanese, your Japanese level must be above conversational.)
(4) You must have basic knowledge, or practical experience in disaster prevention, disaster support, foreigner support and multilingual support. (You must attend the lectures provided by the Iwate International Association.)
※Anyone who is certified as an Iwate Multilingual Disaster Supporters will be issued with an Iwate Multilingual Disaster Supporters certificate.

Validity of Certification
The validity of the certification is 4 years, including the year of issue. However, anyone who fulfills the above criteria and attends the training lectures as designated by the Iwate International Association, to continues to work as an Iwate Disaster Multilingual Supporter will have their certification renewed on the expiry year.
Information about Iwate Disaster Multilingual Supporter Certification (Flyer PDF: 314KB)


The certification can be renewed by taking the lectures that are targeted for those who would like to renew, and can be renewed for 4 years at a time (including the year of issue).

Lectures Required for Certification

Please refer here for the schedule of lectures required for certification and training courses from 2023.

3.Easy Japanese that is useful in the event of a disaster

 Easy Japanese is Japanese that is simpler than Japanese normally used and easy for foreigners to understand. During the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in January 1995, not only just Japanese people, many foreigners in Japan also suffered damage. During this time, there were also people who could not get enough information because they could not understand Japanese or English well enough. Learning from this experience, the concept of “Easy Japanese” was created in order for those people to be able to take appropriate action in the event of a disaster. (From “Easy Japanese to reduce damage from disasters” by Hirosaki University Faculty of Humanities Sociolinguistics Laboratory)
The Iwate International Association is promoting Easy Japanese initiatives in order to protect even more foreigners from disasters.
If you are interested in Easy Japanese for your municipality or regional activities, please contact the Iwate International Association.

4.Booklet “What we can do in order to protect foreigners from a disaster ~What each person can do to support foreigners in the event of an emergency~”

This is a booklet which summaries the foreigner support everyone can provide in the event of an emergency.
What we can do in order to protect foreigners from a disaster ~What each person can do to support foreigners in the event of an emergency~」