A residents association in Oita Prefecture has been providing free rice to about 170 non-Japanese technical interns and other foreign workers in the area since June who are struggling with declining income amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Aimed at helping the foreign workers, the move now is expanding to a grassroots international exchange involving more local residents and children.

According to the residents association in Nakatsu, overseas workers have increased in number in the past decade or so, working in an industrial complex in the area that houses firms doing business with automakers. But when orders began to decline in April, their working days were reduced considerably, too.