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OTSU, Shiga Pref. (Kyodo) Shiga Prefecture’s board of education will hire unemployed foreign residents as part-time interpreters at elementary and junior high schools this academic year, officials said Tuesday.

The decision is part of efforts to support foreign students experiencing difficulty with the Japanese language. An increasing number of such students are transferring from ethnic to public schools, where tuition is less expensive, due to their parents having lost their jobs, according to the officials.

The board of education will hire up to 11 interpreters who understand Japanese and can speak Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese or Tagalog. They will be given six-month contracts.

The program will cost around ¥31 million.

The interpreters will be able to renew their contracts one time and will be dispatched to schools on request, the officials said. Japanese nationals who meet the requirements can also to apply for the jobs.

There are about 32,000 foreign residents in Shiga Prefecture, of whom 14,000 are Brazilian, the largest minority group.

In December and January, 91 foreign students transferred to public schools.

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