Moves are growing in Japan to bolster support for foreign tourists affected by a massive earthquake that rocked the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido on Thursday morning, Japan's Jiji Press reported.
For tourists scared by the unfamiliar temblor and facing language barriers, the Sapporo municipal government's economic and tourism affairs bureau opened the first and second floors of Sapporo Sosei Square, a high-rise complex building in the capital of Hokkaido, ahead of the facility's opening.
The city government handed out water and blankets to waves of people including foreigners unable to extend their stays in accommodations and with nowhere to go after checking out.
At one point on the day of the 6.7-magnitude quake, some 400 people were at the facility, according to city officials.
On Friday, around 200 people were staying at the facility, with many charging mobile phones and watching television, the officials said.
On Thursday, the Hokkaido prefectural government's international affairs division started a consultation service in foreign languages including English and Chinese. It received around 100 consultations the same day, including about the location of evacuation shelters, as well as on the restart of bus and Shinkansen bullet train operations to leave Hokkaido.
Meanwhile, Language One Corp, a Tokyo-based company involved in businesses such as telephone interpreting services, started offering free translation services via telephone in 12 languages, such as English and Korean.
According to the prefectural government, the number of foreigners visiting Hokkaido has been on the rise in recent years.
In fiscal 2017, the number of such tourists hit a record high of some 2.79 million.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK