The nation’s seven foreign-studies universities are planning to train a battalion of potentially thousands of students to work as interpreters during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Together, the students will encompass 27 languages and hopefully comprise a valuable asset to be deployed at conferences and other sporting events in years ahead.

Together, the seven universities have 30,800 undergraduates studying major languages such as Arabic, Russian and Mandarin, but also comparative niche tongues such as Polish, Mongolian, Hindi and Turkish.

The participating universities are Kansai Gaidai University, Kanda University of International Studies, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies and Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

The universities agreed last June to coordinate efforts to foster multilingual talent, said Kimiyo Watanabe, a spokeswoman for Sano Gakuen, the operator of Kanda University of International Studies, which heads the project.

“We’d like to educate as many students as possible who would serve as volunteer interpreters,” Watanabe said. “We hope the project would benefit the students’ career development.”

A secretariat will be set up at Kanda University of International Studies by the end of March, Watanabe said.

The university will hold a seminar this summer for students from the seven participating universities, with lecturers from the interpretation and hotel industries as well as the Japanese Olympic Committee and the organizing committee of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which Japan is hosting.

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