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Korean, Chinese, Brazilian and other foreign nationals living in Japan plan to set up a nonprofit organization to provide interpreters and volunteers for the 2002 World Cup finals, which kick off in less than 300 days.

North Korean journalist Kang Song and Sergio Echigo, a Japanese-Brazilian soccer commentator, are part of the organizing group that plans to apply to form the NPO in September. They plan to send 100 people to each of the 10 venues nationwide.

People from 13 countries have expressed interest in participating thus far, the organizers said.

While the Japanese organizing committee for the World Cup (JAWOC) has its own volunteer system, the NPO will aim to make unique contributions based on the cultural backgrounds of its members.

The organization, however, will actively cooperate with JAWOC and local governments, according to the organizers.

The rationale behind the formation of the NPO is that there are few places where foreigners and Japanese people can interact, despite the increasing number of foreigners living in Japan.

Participants also hope to calm Japanese people’s fears of outsiders amid a string of recent crimes blamed on foreigners, organizers said.

The organization aims to deepen cultural understanding through soccer and create a more culturally open society, they said.

During the 1998 World Cup finals in France, immigrants actively took part in volunteer activities to eliminate prejudice against them, Kang said. Through its contributions to the 2002 World Cup, the group wants Japanese to understand that foreigners are hardworking people who can support the nation’s future in light of the aging population and declining birthrate, he added.

In addition to interpretation, local governments want the organization’s cooperation in areas such as ethnic entertainment and cooking.

To raise funds for their activities, organization members said they are currently soliciting support from various related industry groups.

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