With the rapid increase in foreign visitors to Japan, its central government intends to create a certification for regionally based guide interpreters that local governments will grant to people who participate in training sessions.
The government plans to submit a bill to revise the Licensed Guide Interpreters Law to the current Diet session.
Unlike existing national qualifications, regionally based guide interpreters will be certified by prefectures, cities, towns and villages that grant them on their own, according to the bill. Each local government will compile a plan to develop guide interpreters and conduct training sessions necessary for awarding the qualification.
Guide interpreters accompany tourists for a fee. But some have said they cannot sufficiently handle the demand from foreign tourists for services in regional areas such as going for a stroll in a town or hiking in the mountains.
According to the Japan Tourism Agency, there are about 20,000 certified guide interpreters nationwide, but 75 percent of them are based in Tokyo, Osaka Prefecture and other urban areas. The government aims to draw foreign tourists into regional areas with the certification for regionally based guide interpreters.