Hidemi Yamanaka, second from right, a third-grade student at Homi Primary School in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, and other students read brochures on safe internet practices, which were translated into Portuguese and distributed by the Aichi Prefecture police on September 21. 2021. (Mainichi / Ayaka Morita)

NAGOYA – A municipal high school in central Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, which has the second highest number of foreign nationals in Japan after Tokyo, provided language assistance through translations of handouts and printed for its large number of foreign students and their parents, many of whom are not fluent in Japanese.

Foreign nationals make up around 40% of the student body at Homi High School in the prefectural city of Toyota. In addition to information related to school life, the school also asked the police to cooperate and translate information related to people’s lives, such as crime prevention information. The school says it wants to ensure that this information is disseminated fairly.

As of May 1, 2018, Aichi Prefecture had 9,100 foreign children requiring Japanese language instruction, the highest level among the 47 prefectures in Japan. Toyota, meanwhile, an area with a concentrated auto industry, has many foreign workers. Of the 320 students at Homi secondary school, around 130 are foreign nationals and 90% of them have Portuguese as their mother tongue.

The school has a “Support Center for Foreign Children and Students” run by the municipal government, and a permanently stationed Japanese-speaking staff member provides Portuguese translations of all notices and other materials distributed by the school. school regarding sports festivals, school trips, excursions and other such events, as well as PTA notices.

According to the school, it is not known when the translation started, but in 2007 the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology cited the school as an example in a study meeting on the enrichment of the education of foreigners in primary and secondary education. school age.

Director Yoko Hirabuki commented, “Rather than just passing all the material to the Japanese instructor, we go back and forth with them and have it translated in a way that is easy for everyone to understand.” The instructor also provides interpretation for students who are unsure of daily conversation and monitors their homework.

One of the problems was how to convey information about the safety and life of the students to their parents. The school distributes materials created by the police and other outside organizations in Japanese, but refrained from translating them for fear that they might be translated in an unexpected way by the creators. However, there are parents who do not even understand the meaning of numbers 110 and 119 (the emergency numbers for police and fire / ambulance services in Japan), and there have been cases in where people have approached the school about crimes, accidents and other issues that the school has not been able to respond to.

In May, Hirabuki went to the Toyota police station and demanded that the materials distributed at the school be translated into Portuguese. In September, the police responded by translating a brochure on safe internet practices into Portuguese through the Interpretation Center of the Prefecture of Police. Hidemi Yamanaka, a 15-year-old third-year student at the school, of Brazilian nationality, said, “My parents can only understand hiragana and katakana. If it’s written in our own language, I can read it with them. ”

The translated brochure was also distributed to Kyuban Danchi Housing Estate in the Minato district of Nagoya, which is home to many residents of foreign nationality. A 32-year-old Brazilian woman who lives there said with a smile: “I feel comfortable because it’s in my mother tongue. If I can understand it, I can also call the children (to follow the instructions) . ”

Hirabuki commented, “By making people understand important information in their own language, we can provide appropriate advice to children. We want these efforts to spread to many more schools.

(Japanese original by Ayaka Morita, Nagoya News Center)