A tourism board in western Japan has begun distributing badges to volunteer guides to indicate their foreign language capabilities to better serve visitors from overseas.

The Osaka-based Kansai Tourism Bureau started providing the badges earlier this month in the Kansai region and nearby areas.

Three badges specify whether volunteers speak English, Korean or Chinese, while a fourth type leaves a blank space to list their proficiency in another language.

Volunteers do not require an interpreter license, and the tourism bureau hopes many people will display the badges to support tourists.

The organization — which includes local business groups and municipalities — is distributing 3,000 badges to companies, employees and college students through municipalities and universities. Prospective volunteers can also order the badges through the bureau’s website.

“In Kansai, we have people who like to meddle in other’s business,” said Osamu Yoshida, who handles strategic planning in the organization. “We hope (the badges) will become a tool to help them” as volunteers.

To promote the badges, the organization will have dozens of volunteers wear them during two major summer festivals in the Kansai region this month — the Gion Festival in Kyoto and the Tenjin festival in Osaka.

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