The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is stepping up a joint project with the central government to add foreign languages to guide boards and other information sources for the 2020 Summer Games.
Some 10.36 million people came to Japan from abroad in 2013, topping the government’s target of 10 million, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
That number is expected to jump dramatically for the Olympics and Paralympics in six years, but a survey conducted by JNTO has found that the biggest complaint among foreign visitors is a shortage of foreign-language information.
The metropolitan and central governments set up an association in March made up of 56 public and private organizations related to transportation, tourism, lodging and dining in the Tokyo area to make information more accessible to foreign tourists.
Initially, the association will work to provide information in English, in addition to Japanese, on signboards in airports, train stations, sea ports and lodgings as well as street signs and restaurant menus. Information in Chinese, Korean and other languages will also be enhanced.
For this year, the association will set up three subgroups focusing on transport, roads, and tourism and services, and research advanced initiatives for foreign-language information systems.
A Tokyo official said the association plans to promote multi-language information services at museums and other cultural facilities to help foreigners understand the culture better when they visit Japan for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
The association will study overseas museums such as the Louvre in Paris, which makes booklets available in 12 languages, and the Palace Museum in Beijing, where visitors can listen to audio information on exhibits in 35 languages, the official said.