Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward updates website to include 108 languages

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A screenshot showing COVID-19-related information in Spanish on the Katsushika Ward website

Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward has revamped its website to make content available in 108 languages, thereby increasing convenience for non-Japanese residents.

A local government official said, “We’d like to accurately convey ward-related information, including intel on novel coronavirus infections and disaster prevention to Japanese and non-Japanese alike.”

According to the ward, 21,591 foreign nationals from 96 countries were living in Katsushika as of Feb. 1. Until the renewal, website content was only offered in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean, falling short of the needs of the ward’s residents who collectively speak more than 60 languages.

Additionally, the website’s content is automatically translated into the language that users have set on their respective smartphones or PCs — formerly, it was necessary to users to manually change the language from Japanese.

Katsushika Ward is home to the nation’s largest Ethiopian community, comprising more than 80 individuals. Languages used in Ethiopia include Amharic and Somali, according to Abebe Sahlesilassie Amare, director of the Adeyabeba Ethiopia Association, a nonprofit body that supports Ethiopians living in Japan.

It is thought that many Ethiopians in the ward did not use the website due to the language barriers. Now, however, information is available in both Amharic and Somali.

“Foreigners are keen to get information on topics such as disaster prevention, changes of address and child rearing, Abebe” said. “I’m happy to share the changes with the Ethiopian community so people can make effective use of the website”.