Osaka plans to offer multilingual disaster information for foreign visitors

Kyodo

Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui said Friday he wants to start providing information for foreign visitors in the event of a disaster.

The plan to develop a multilingual email system was announced after many foreigners faced difficulties following the closure of Kansai International Airport earlier this week by a powerful typhoon, which disrupted a large number of transport networks in the area.

Visitors from overseas were also badly in need of emergency information when a strong earthquake hit Osaka in June.

“When Typhoon Jebi came, it was conspicuous that foreign visitors were mostly unable to get (timely) information,” Matsui told reporters after a meeting of the Osaka Prefectural Government. He also said funds raised from the prefecture’s accommodation tax would be used for the system, “as it will help save lives in times of an emergency.”

Under the plan, foreign visitors who register with the email system in advance will receive information on topics such as public transportation, and when power and water outages may end if they have been affected by a disaster.

During the meeting, the local government decided to present a draft ordinance to the upcoming assembly session to increase tax revenue in order to cover the cost of the service.

Currently, each hotel guest who pays an accommodation fee of ¥10,000 or more is required to pay tax within the range of ¥100 to ¥300. The prefectural government is looking to lower the threshold for taxation so that it starts at ¥7,000.