of the Ibaraki Foreigners Roundtable Proposals To Ibaraki Governor

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					       Proposals
 of the Ibaraki Foreigners’ Roundtable




To Ibaraki Governor Masaru HASHIMOTO
         FY 2006–07 Proposals for Realizing Multicultural Harmony
          The number of foreigners registered in Ibaraki Prefecture has reached
approximately 54,000 (as of year-end 2005), making up approximately 1.8% of the
prefecture’s population, and these numbers are expected to continue to increase. Most
live in Ibaraki, and go to work or school the same as Japanese people.
          When people of different nationalities, ethnicities, or cultures live together like
this in the same area, it’s vital to recognize each other’s differences and create a society
where people can work and live together, on equal footing, as members of the same
community. We call this tabunka kyōsei, or “multicultural harmony” (literally
“multicultural symbiosis”).
          We ten members of the 2006 Ibaraki Foreigners’ Roundtable met a total of four
times to discuss various issues faced by foreigners living in Japan, and collected our
proposals into this document.
          A society that’s easy for foreigners to live in is also a society that’s easy for
Japanese people to live in. We would like to see Ibaraki Prefecture and related
organizations respond to the issues raised in this document, and ramp up efforts to
make multicultural harmony a concrete reality.

                                                                        January 22nd, 2007

                             The members of the 2006-07 Ibaraki Foreigners’ Roundtable
      Proposals of the FY 2006–07 Ibaraki Foreigners’ Roundtable
                              Contents


Proposal 1: Make Japan’s health care easy to use for foreigners too
Proposal 2: Ensure educational opportunities for children of foreigners
Proposal 3: Make it easier for foreign-affiliated companies to be active in
Japanese society, and increase chances for foreigners to get jobs
Proposal 4: Make it possible for foreigners for quickly learn Japanese and
rules of Japanese society
Proposal 5: Provide information needed by foreigners in everyday life in
multiple languages
Proposal 6: Make everyday life more convenient for foreigners
Proposal 7: Make it so foreigners can smoothly accomplish national,
prefectural, and municipal administrative procedures
Proposal 8: Create a system where foreigners can get help in their everyday
lives
Proposal 9: Do not be discriminatory towards foreigners
Proposal 10: Create opportunities for Japanese people and foreigners to
meet and grow to understand each other
Proposal 11: Provide places where foreigners living in Ibaraki can exchange
and collect information in their native languages
Proposal 12: Work on cleaning up the environment
        Proposals of the FY 2006–07 Ibaraki Foreigners’ Roundtable

    (Healthcare)
Proposal 1: Make Japan’s health care easy to use for foreigners too
                             Specific desires and observations
1) Station interpreters in hospitals and put Roman letters and/or multiple languages on
      signs.
    • Without an interpreter it’s difficult to understand about disease names and
       symptoms.
    • Inside a large hospital, it’s hard to tell where to go.
2) Assign an interpreter to assist when a foreigner gets an examination.
    • Since it’s difficult to understand complicated explanations of symptoms given at
       hospitals, it would be helpful to have an interpreter.
3) Create opportunities for foreigners to learn about social insurance programs such as
      medical care and pensions.
    • Since Japan’s social insurance programs are complicated, they’re difficult for
       foreigners to understand.
    • There are foreign wives of Japanese men that aren’t aware that they too are
       enrolled in the pension system.
4) Municipal governments should send information about medical care to foreign
      residents.
    • City halls should have the addresses of foreigners living in the city, so we would like
       them to send out information about medical care.
5) From a humanitarian standpoint, child health handbooks should be issued even for
      foreign-born children brought to Japan, and children born to foreigners without
      visas.
    • We want children of foreigners to have access to the same health management as
       children of Japanese people.


    (School education)
Proposal 2: Ensure educational opportunities for children of foreigners
                             Specific desires and observations
1) Introduce school busing to improve convenience and safety for children of foreigners,
      who don’t have very many ways to get around.
    • School buses make it safer for children, and provide peace of mind for parents.
        Getting to school is something that has to happen every day, so buses would make
        it easier for parents to work.
2) Station interpreters in schools.
    • Interpreters do currently visit schools but not every day. If there’s no interpreter
        around when a serious incident like bullying occurs, it’s a big problem.
    • It would help to have a system conducive to interpreters being willing to assist. It’s
        also important to sufficiently consider their personal circumstances, to avoid too
        much burden being concentrated on a few interpreters.
3) Put readings for kanji and/or translations in multiple languages on notices and other
      documents from school.
    • There are parents that can’t read Japanese, so they can’t read notices from their
       children’s schools. It’s especially a serious problem for foreigners from countries
       that don’t use kanji.
4) Make it possible for children of foreigners to get education in their native language.
   • There are foreigners in Japan who send their children to public schools because
       international schools cost money, but then have problems when they go back to
       their home countries and their children can’t speak the language.
   • Regardless of whether they will in the future go to the country of their parents’ or
       not, we would like a guarantee of native language education to children of
       foreigners as a fundamental right.
5) Explain the importance of education to parents who don’t send their children to school,
     and make it possible for their children to get school education.
   • Even after helping with school entry procedures at the city hall, there are cases
       where children stop going to school, and contact with their parents is lost.


    (Working environment)
Proposal 3: Make it easier for foreign-affiliated companies to be active in
Japanese society, and increase chances for foreigners to get jobs
                            Specific desires and observations
1) Increase places that foreigners can work and companies that hire foreigners, as well
      as part-time work opportunities for foreigners who are also busy with housework
      and other things.
    • It seems there are many companies where foreigners can not work.
    • It depends on the region, but types of jobs and working hours available to
        foreigners are limited.
2) Make it possible for business owners who are foreigners to get sufficient explanations
      about how loans from organizations like Chambers of Commerce work.
    • One of the Roundtable members went to a Chamber of Commerce to ask about a
        loan but was unable to get one and didn’t understand why.


    (Japanese society and understanding the Japanese language)
Proposal 4: Make it possible for foreigners for quickly learn Japanese and
rules of Japanese society
                            Specific desires and observations
1) Provide opportunities where foreigners can learn about laws and rules necessary for
      everyday life, so they don’t lose out or even break the law as a result of not knowing
      these laws and rules.
   • Foreigners just arrived in Japan are sometimes misunderstood by people around
       them because they don’t understand Japan’s culture and customs. It would be
       helpful if they could get these things explained to them right away.
   • One of the Roundtable members was warned for using a cell phone while driving,
       without having known that it’s illegal. We would like foreigners to be informed of
       rules relevant to everyday life when they take care of foreigner registration, and
       sent notices about changes in laws.
   • It would be helpful to hand out a package of materials necessary for everyday life
       upon foreigner registration.
2) Provide information to help foreigners see the good things about Ibaraki.
    • Ibaraki has many good tourist spots, but many are hard to find out about without
       going with a Japanese person. It’s hard to show around friends visiting from home.
3) Improve Japanese classes for foreigners, and make it so foreigners who are working
      can also easily take advantage of them.
    • Many working people can’t join Japanese classes because the times conflict with
       their work.
    • There aren’t enough Japanese classes, and we would like non-free classes to be
       cheaper.
    • We would like a public guarantee of free opportunities to intensively study the bare
       minimum of Japanese necessary for daily life as a foreign resident of Japan—such
       as countries like Australia and the United States offer.


    (Information in multiple languages)
Proposal 5: Provide information needed by foreigners in everyday life in
multiple languages
                             Specific desires and observations
1) Include Roman letters and/or multiple languages on public signs such as road signs.
    • It’s difficult to read road signs and other signs without Roman letters. Kanji are very
        difficult. Even if furigana readings are included, there are many foreigners who
        can’t read without Roman letters.
    • It’s confusing how one road can have two names, and there can be multiple
        national routes with the same number.
2) Include Roman letters and/or multiple languages on utility bills such as electricity, gas,
      and water.
    • Roundtable members have experienced missing payment on a bill due to not
        understanding it, as well as getting two copies of the same bill, paying both, and
        having to get one refunded afterwards. Even just simple English on bills would
        help.


    (Making everyday life more convenient)
Proposal 6: Make everyday life more convenient for foreigners
                             Specific desires and observations
1) Connect bank ATMs to international networks, and make them multilingual and open
     24 hours.
   • A bank card from a Canadian bank could be used in almost any country in the world,
       except for Japan.
   • ATMs in Hungary can display in several languages.
   • It’s strange that convenience stores in Japan are open 24 hours, yet ATMs are not.
2) Make trips and going home more convenient by increasing the number of Narita
     Airport-bound buses.
   • Bus times and flight times often don’t mesh right, and if one gets into Narita at 9
       p.m. there are no more buses.
    (Administrative procedures)
Proposal 7: Make it so foreigners can smoothly accomplish national,
prefectural, and municipal administrative procedures
                            Specific desires and observations
1) Open a branch office of the Immigration Bureau in the Tsukuba area, where a large
      number of foreigners live, making it more convenient to take care of procedures
      related to status of residence.
   • Places to go for various procedures are concentrated in the Mito area; it would be
       helpful to have local offices.
2) Clearly specify information such as what times various procedures can be performed,
      and the documents needed.
   • It’s hard to figure out what documents are needed for different procedures. A
       Roundtable member once went in to do a procedure but didn’t have all the right
       documents and had to go and come several times—we want it to be
       understandable from the start.
3) Make it so foreigners too can smoothly accomplish procedures, by posting multilingual
      counter staff, or at least having them explain slowly and politely in Japanese.
   • Administrative procedures are a real difficulty for foreigners who can’t speak
       Japanese.


    (Help for foreigners in everyday life)
Proposal 8: Create a system where foreigners can get help in their
everyday lives
                            Specific desires and observations
1) Create a system where Japanese people can register as volunteers to help out
      foreigners.
   • The most helpful thing for exchange students at Japanese universities is the
       existence of tutors (Japanese students who, as part of university programs, help
       out exchange students). Exchange students get to make Japanese friends, it helps
       them learn Japanese and about Japanese culture, and they can get help with
       everyday problems. If a similar system were available in communities, it would be
       a huge help, and would improve cultural exchange as well.
2) Post advisors for foreigners in offices like city halls, and offer consultations on
      everyday life.
   • We would like municipal offices in areas where many foreigners live to have
       advisors that speak languages spoken by the foreigners concentrated in that area.


    (Treatment of foreigners)
Proposal 9: Do not be discriminatory towards foreigners
                            Specific desires and observations
1) Get rid of prejudice and bullying against foreigners in communities and schools.
   • One of the Roundtable members once encountered several high schoolers who
       blocked the way with their bicycles, perhaps thinking that it’s ok to be mean to a
       foreigner.
2) Ensure that governmental organizations do not treat foreigners in a dehumanizing
     manner during investigations.
   • One of the Roundtable members saw a foreigner, despite not being an illegal alien,
      being treated in an unwarranted way in an investigation. This is a human rights
      problem.
3) Ensure that foreigners are not at a disadvantage compared to Japanese people in
     renting apartments.
   • Renting an apartment is difficult because foreigners are sometimes turned down by
      real estate agents just for being foreigners, or imposed with strict conditions such
      as the necessity of a Japanese guarantor.
   • Needing one’s guarantor’s stamp on every contract change can cause difficulties.


    (Exchange and mutual understanding between Japanese people and foreigners)
Proposal 10: Create opportunities for Japanese people and foreigners to
meet and grow to understand each other
                            Specific desires and observations
1) Create a website where Japanese people and foreigners living in Ibaraki can exchange
      information, and that they can use as a reference in solving problems.
   • It would be helpful if there was a place that Japanese people and foreigners living
       in Ibaraki could post information divided into categories like housing, education,
       and labor; as well as a forum where interested people could work together to solve
       problems.
2) Set up international exchange organizations in each municipality.
   • It would be helpful if there were organizations that register volunteers and could
       serve as parent bodies for volunteer activities.
   • We would like places in the neighborhoods we live—not just in central areas of the
       prefecture or city—where we can meet and talk.
3) Provide and support opportunities for Japanese people and foreigners to interact on a
      community level, such as events that they can participate in together.
   • It’s hard for foreigners recently arrived in Japan to communicate with Japanese
       people.
   • From the point of view of Japanese people as well, perhaps even if they want to talk
       to foreigners, there aren’t many opportunities.
   • If there were more discussion and cultural exchange, such as having Japanese
       people try foods from other countries, wouldn’t it help people understand each
       other better?
4) Understand dietary differences based on religion and custom.
   • There are people who don’t eat pork for religious reasons.
   • There aren’t very many establishments that provide vegetarian food. There are
       Japanese people that don’t understand what vegetarianism is.
5) Set up panels in various regions that both Japanese people and foreigners can take
      part in and discuss policy proposals.
   • We want Japanese people to directly hear the discussions of this Roundtable. They
       could participate, or even just sitting and the back and listening would be good.
     (Providing opportunities for foreigners to meet each other)
Proposal 11: Provide places where foreigners living in Ibaraki can
exchange and collect information in their native languages
                             Specific desires and observations
1) Create places, for example in city halls or community centers, where foreigners can
      exchange information about everyday life.
   • Since it’s not possible to ask at a city hall where foreigners are living, it would be
        helpful if there were a place where foreigners could meet and exchange
        information. It’s very difficult to secure a place like this, so we would like support
        from government too.
2) Put printed materials for foreigners such as books, newspapers, and magazines in
      libraries and/or community centers.
   • Libraries have mostly Japanese books, so it’s hard to find desired information.
   • We want to go to libraries together with our children and have things to connect on.
   • We would like to request that various libraries stock newspapers, magazines, and
        books that take into account the needs of foreign residents.


     (Community beautification)
Proposal 12: Work on cleaning up the environment
                             Specific desires and observations
1) Clean up the waterfront and stop illegal dumping.
   • It’s a waste that beautiful places are left a mess.
   • It’s our community too, so we want to help out with cleanup activities, and be able
       to live in places that are clean.