Thursday, 29th October 2015
In General Japan News,
Japan sets up translation hotlines for tourists
With record numbers of tourists visiting Japan comes issues, one of which is ensuring that people from all over the world are understood while travelling in the country.
Various measures are being put in place to help aid communication, with the latest being a translation hotline.
The 24-hour service allows visitors and staff who deal with tourists to phone up and get assistance when they need it.
Local authorities have set up the hotline in response to many of those travelling to Japan not having the necessary language skills before they arrive, reports the Japan Times.
While it is the local administrations who have been instrumental in their formation, the call centres are staffed by private companies.
Depending on the area of Japan, different languages will be spoken, but one particular call centre offers translations in as many as 13 tongues.
Everything from helping to find a doctor who speaks the same language as the visitor to haggling over souvenirs can be achieved over the phone.
In Saga Prefecture in the south of Japan, the authorities have gone one step further and launched a smartphone app.
Those who install it on their phone can use it to connect directly to an operator and have their translation resolved quickly.
A spokeswoman for the Saga Tourism Federation said: "We've gotten the fire department and the police on board as well, so you can use the service for help if you are involved in a traffic accident in a rented car or you need urgent medical help."
The next step, due to come into force in 2016, is to introduce translation robots into the mix. Plans are already in place for such gadgets to be let loose on tourists in areas they commonly visit throughout the country.