• Kyodo


Officials from the Brazilian Consulate General in Tokyo arrived Friday in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, to assist Brazilians affected by a series of earthquakes that started last weekend.

The South Americans are among a large number of foreign workers and their families who reside in the city and have been forced to find temporary homes in shelters.

Nagaoka has a number of factories making machinery and other products. It has about 2,100 registered foreign residents from such countries as Brazil and China.

Shelters have become a temporary home for many of them.

“My family in China is worried, but so long as I am here, there’s food,” said 35-year-old Rong Yan from China, who works as an intern at a clothing factory.

“I would like to stay in Japan until next June as I’d planned,” she said at one of the shelters in the city.

She said she still works each day at the factory.

Claudio Vaz, 52, a Brazilian who works at a local factory, said: “I really appreciate the support. It’s very tough right now, but one day I would definitely like to return a favor to Japan.”

The Brazilian Consulate General sent about 10 staff and counselors to an elementary school gym serving as a shelter for Brazilian evacuees.

Nagaoka city officials are visiting shelters to provide pamphlets in English, Chinese, Portuguese and Tagalog to inform foreign nationals about short-term housing and procedures for returning temporarily to their home countries.

The officials said many have complained of sleepless nights and expressed concern about continuing aftershocks.

Some foreigners are concerned that a delay in the restoration of damaged infrastructure might threaten their jobs.

“Some of my friends might lose their part-time jobs and have to discontinue studying,” said Azizan Bin Mohammedisa, 24, from Malaysia, who studies machinery engineering at Nagaoka University of Technology.

The quakes that hit Nagaoka and other regions in Niigata Prefecture killed 35 people. As many as 84,000 people were still living in public facilities used as shelters nearly a week after the first quakes struck.

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