Suggestions for Communication of Information for Multicultural Co-Existence

Suggestions for Communication of Information for Multicultural Co-Existence

Noriko Kurata (Tokyo University of Science, Suwa, Japan)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch637
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The purpose of this chapter is to propose measures required for promoting coexistence with multi-culture residents (MCR). In this chapter, the plans and ordinances established by the local governments in Japan were focused. As a result, majority of the local governments targeted for the survey had declared the need for multicultural co-existence and multilingual communication of information in their plans. Further, on the web operated by the local governments, machine translation was used. However, the study revealed that there were no local governments that communicated ordinances on the web in multiple languages. Not being informed about ordinances is detrimental to the daily life of foreigners residing in the local community and further can become the cause of increase in troubles with the Japanese in the local community. Therefore, this chapter proposes that the concerned local governments translate the ordinances ranked higher in the system of all ordinances on a priority basis and collaborate with the MCR to generate more precise expressions.
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Given the advancement of globalization today, an increasing number of people are emigrating from the country they were born in or from the country where people of their same ethnicity live, to other countries seeking economic affluence and a safe and secure life. Even in Japan, a country that is surrounded by sea, the number of resident foreigners is increasing every year. In any country and in any region, it is difficult to stop globalization. Local governments all over the world are facing the common challenge of fostering mutual understanding among existing local residents and people with multicultural backgrounds or multi-culture residents (MCR), rather than excluding them, and encouraging mutual acceptance.

In Japan, Japanese residents (JR) and MCR are frequently experiencing each other’s culture through local events such as cooking classes and gymnastics exercises. Local governments have established many places for such experience-based cultural exchange. However, culture includes things that can only be expressed through language. These are ordinances. Ordinances are the norms of the region that regulate the rights and duties of the residents. If one does not understand the language accurately one cannot interpret the ordinances. Even for those people who cannot interpret ordinances correctly, if they violate an ordinance it is punishable by fine. Persons who do not know about an ordinance suffer disadvantages due to their ignorance. Ordinances are a part of the local culture that should be known to those who intend to live in the region.

As a means of knowing the local culture, there are ways of finding information related to local governments by searching on the website. Most information about local governments in Japan is distributed in Japanese, but through the introduction of machine translation, it is possible to convert it into a language that users themselves find easy to understand.

In this chapter, the examinations on the trend towards an increase in MCRs in Japan were made first, and examples of introduction of machine translation in Japan were also presented. Further, the results of surveys were described as status of communication of information in Japan’s basic local governments, some issues were extracted, and available countermeasures were proposed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Artificial Intelligence: This refers to technologies in which intellectual activity such as understanding or reasoning of languages, and problem-solving skills conducted by humans are performed by computers instead. It is also called AI. Application fields that have incorporated artificial intelligence include expert systems that organize a particular area of human knowledge, store it as data, infer and judge using data, while understanding the meaning of inquiries. Further, artificial intelligence technologies are also utilized in pattern recognition that understands languages spoken by human beings and handwriting and in machine translation systems.

Ordinance: Ordinances are government legislations applied in the prefecture or the local government, and are enacted within the range of the country’s laws and regulations. A vote is required in the assembly of concerned local public organizations. In the prefecture or the local government, rules come under ordinances and guidelines come under rules. Among these, only ordinances require the decision of the council. As items related to the rights and obligations of the citizens are prescribed in ordinances, it is essential that they are enacted through a democratic process.

Fiscal Year: In Japan, the majority of companies, city halls, and schools operate according to the fiscal year. One fiscal year is from April to March next year.

local government: This refers to municipalities and special wards established by the stipulations of the local government of a region. It refers to a local public organization whose boundary is of a smaller scale than that of a prefecture.

Machine Translation: This refers to the use of computers to translate into other languages. As translation of natural languages can contain several mistranslations due to omissions of words or mode of expression, it is used most often in the translation of technical documents such as manuals. Currently, it is sold as an application using the technologies of AI (artificial intelligence), and services are provided on the web pages.

Population Census (National Population Census): This refers to the population survey conducted by the Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications every five years on October 1 as of date. Questionnaires are mailed to each household and the members of the household answer providing the family composition. From 2015, it has become possible to provide answers via the internet as well. For households that do not respond, survey officials appointed by the municipality personally visit the site and confirm the family composition among other things. According to the 2015 survey results, answers through the internet survey constituted 36.9% of the total number of households.

Fundamental Ordinance on Local Autonomy: The ordinances are regulations which each municipality enacts at its own discretion, the enactment of which is not obligated by the law of the national government. In the ordinances, the participation of citizens in community planning, along with provision of information relating to the community from the government to the citizens, are provided for, and provisions on administering the local area with citizens, local governments, area businesses, and organizations such as NPOs working together are spelled out. In many municipalities which have enacted them, the ordinances are positioned as supreme law which takes precedence over other regulations.

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