Protect Foreigners in DisastersEnglish Evacuation Maps Produced by Kyoto Students and Organizations10 March 2015 - Local topics
Some international exchange organizations and students in Kyoto have taken measures in order to safely evacuate foreign visitors and residents who are in Kyoto when a large-scale disaster happens. They have prepared not only a map of evacuation centers written in English, but also a guide manual for visitors from abroad. The producers appeal to the public, saying "We want foreign people to make use of these materials in case of emergency."
According to a Kyoto tourism comprehensive survey, the number of foreign guests in Kyoto in 2013 was 1.13 million people, an approximately 35 percent increase over the previous year. Although the number of foreign residents in Kyoto has been decreasing in recent years, about 40,000 people from more than 40 countries live in Kyoto. As foreign people may have problems getting appropriate evacuation information due to the language barrier, there is an urgent need to establish assistance measures.
In fact, according to a questionnaire conducted by the Sendai International Relations Association based in Sendai City, which suffered from the Great East Japan Earthquake, about the 55 percent of the foreign victims of the earthquake answered that they couldn't obtain necessary information on the day of the earthquake, nor the next day. Of those responded that they didn't go to a shelter, nearly 11 percent answered, "We had no idea where we should go." There is a growing need to provide information and make shelters universally known.
The Kyoto City International Foundation, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, has recently published nine thousand copies of A-3 sized map of shelters and safety evacuation areas in Kyoto.
The map with the 11 administrative districts of Kyoto City shows shelters and safety evacuation areas in English. Corresponding to the numbers allocated on the map, the locations of shelters and other places are written in English at the bottom of the map. A list of emergency survival goods, a guide to the disaster message service and other information are placed on the front.
The foundation said, "We want to decrease the number of foreign people who have no idea where they should go in case of a major disaster and have no choice but to stay at their homes without necessary relief." They also expect to raise public awareness of disaster prevention by viewing the map, saying "We hope that the map will lead to develop a relationship with neighboring residents."
For the purpose of guiding foreign tourists to safer places, the Kyoto Student Volunteer Fire Fighters, which has approximately 280 university students registered, produced a manual regarding initial response to disasters for their in-house training.
The manual contains 12 pages in all. Approximately 30 phrases such as "Please crouch down at that spot." or "It is very dangerous to head toward the station in unison." are written in Japanese, English and also katakana showing English pronunciation.
Yuki Hata, a junior at Doshisha University and tourism volunteer, proposed the project. Talking about his motivation, he said, "I was anxious about whether I could do evacuation guidance in English, if a large-scale earthquake occurred while I was guiding as an interpreter." He enthusiastically said, "I want to properly move foreign visitors to evacuation centers and other safer places from tourist spots like Arashiyama and Higashiyama."
Distribution of the map produced by the Kyoto City International Foundation will start at the Kyoto International Community House by the end of this month. It is also planned to use the manual as training materials for the Kyoto Student Volunteer Fire Fighter and will also be provided to sightseeing volunteer organizations.
A city administration office in charge of crisis management and disaster prevention said, "In order to assist foreign visitors, we have already produced a booklet with evacuation guidance in English, Chinese and Korean. However, we recognize the challenge of multilingual support and want to push forward with solutions in the future."(translated by Galileo, Inc.)