Special Series: Connect with Tohoku--Real Voices 004

Multilingual Support via Radio

Shizuyo Yoshitomi
Chairwoman of Multilanguage Center FACIL
FMYY Executive Director

Our activities started in the aftermath of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. During our endeavor to support people affected by the disaster, we learned how important it was for residents to maintain their independence and we realized that they all had different needs and characteristics. Since then, we have been striving to create multicultural communities that exclude no one, regardless of gender, age, disabilities, nationality, ethnicity or the place of origin.


After the recent disaster in the Tohoku region, we have been trying to utilize the strength of radio broadcasting to provide long-term support for the affected people, with an emphasis on cultural diversity. Specifically, in collaboration with Oxfam Japan and BHN Association, which promotes IT for basic human needs, we are planning to:

1)Translate important information into multiple languages, convert it into audio data and deliver it to FM stations in the disaster areas, along with 20,000 radio receivers, as well as the necessary equipment and computers to maintain radio broadcasts.

2) Help the many foreign wives of Japanese men and other people from abroad in the Tohoku region from becoming isolated, by assisting them to create networks where they can communicate with each other in their own languages and have access to counseling about their problems.

CIMG9696.JPGWhen I visited a Peruvian woman taking shelter in Onagawa Daiichi Elementary School, I also interviewed her fisherman husband and their son, who was entering high school this April. Her son told me that their house and boat had been washed away by the tsunami and that his father was unable to continue fishing. "Everybody says we'll never be able to return to our home on the island, but I still want to become a fisherman," he said firmly. I thought there was a lot to learn from this young man who was proud of his father's trade and was holding on to his dreams even in such difficult circumstances. I want to help establish a network of children of mixed nationality, so they can stay connected and learn together.

The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident--the triple disaster--has dealt long-lasting damage to the Tohoku region, and the recovery process will continue for a long time, but I think Japan as a whole needs to face the challenge. Each one of us must think hard about what we can do. Although it may not amount to much, I would like to do my best to add my support for the reconstruction so that no one is neglected.

CIMG9773.JPGShizuyo Yoshitomi
Chairwoman of Multilanguage Center, FACIL
FMYY Executive Director
Yoshitomi worked for the Bolivian Honorary Consul General in Kobe from 1990 to1994. She obtained a doctorate from Kyoto University's Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies in 2008, and has been a specially appointed Associate Professor at the Osaka University Global Collaboration Center since 2011. Shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake, FMYY, with the cooperation of FACIL, began providing multilingual support via radio. The Takatori Community Center, an NPO serving as the base for 9 organizations including FMYY, is a recipient of the 2002 Japan Foundation Prize for Global Citizenship.

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