Tourists pose for a selfie in front of the Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto, Japan. Picture: Akio Kon
Tourists pose for a selfie in front of the Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto, Japan. Picture: Akio Kon

No getting lost in translation

By Washington Post Time of article published Jul 21, 2015

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Tokyo - The Japanese government is to establish a system that transcends language barriers and smoothly provides services to visitors that reflect the omotenashi spirit of hospitality for which the country is known.

Foreigners will be asked to volunteer personal information, such as their religion, languages, food preferences and chronic diseases – and this will be passed on to hotels, restaurants, hospitals and other institutions.

The economy, trade and industry ministry has included funds in its fiscal 2016 budget request for a prototype system.

The aim is for the full system to be in use by fiscal 2020, when the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics take place.

Foreigners entering Japan will be asked to record their personal requirements using a personal computer or smartphone application at an airport or on a flight.

A new organisation is to be created by the public and private sectors to manage the information, and only authorised hotels and restaurants will be allowed access. Foreign visitors will be able to find participating hotels and restaurants using a smartphone app.

Restaurants that don’t understand foreign languages will be better able to deal with such customers as Muslims, who do not consume pork or alcohol, and vegetarians. Foreigners who have a medical condition and fall ill in Japan will be able to receive medical treatment more smoothly.

The ministry is considering developing a website or application to connect foreign visitors and restaurants and other facilities in Japan.

The Washington Post

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