National

NHK expands disaster-related push notifications to include Chinese language

Staff Report

Public broadcaster NHK said Thursday it will now provide push notifications in Chinese for disaster-related information via the NHK World news app amid a growing number of Chinese visitors to Japan.

The move comes after Japan experienced a wave of natural disasters this year, including typhoons, heavy rain and earthquakes. During the disasters, those who don’t understand Japanese had trouble getting access to relevant information.

The app provides push notification in simplified and traditional Chinese characters when the Meteorological Agency gives out warnings on earthquakes that reach 3 or above on the Japanese seismic intensity scale. It will also distribute notifications for tsunami warnings from the agency.

“We will continue to offer services that will contribute to the safety of foreign tourists and residents in Japan,” NHK Chairman Ryoichi Ueda said during a regular news conference.

To start, the service will only be launched on Android phones but it will soon be accessible for iOS users as well, an NHK official said.

Users will need to download the free app — NHK World TV — to receive the notifications. NHK already launched the service in English in February. That service also provides push notification for breaking news.

When a strong earthquake struck Hokkaido in September, however, local residents had trouble accessing disaster information via TV and smartphones due to a massive blackout in the region. As a countermeasure, NHK opted to replace its regular programs with disaster-related news on its international radio service in English and other languages.