For a Multicultural Oshu (Oshu City Council Members and International Residents Brainstorm Together)

The original article was published in the Tanko Nichinichi. Read the original here.

The Oshu City Council’s “Special Investigative Committee for Attracting the ILC and for an International Scientific Research Area” met with the ILC Support Committee on February 5th at Oshu City Hall to deepen their understanding of different cultures, ways of thinking and customs, and to use that understanding in preparation for the International Linear Collider. The Oshu City Council ILC Investigative Committee is headed by Mr. Tadashi Watanabe and composed of all city council member excluding the city council president, while the ILC Support Committee is headed by Bill Lewis with its executive office at Oshu International Relations Association. The discussion explored how to make this area an easy place to live for both Japanese and international residents.

The ILC Support Committee was started in January 2013 by international Oshu city residents. The committee has submitted suggestions to both the Oshu city mayor and Iwate’s governor, and its members have appeared as panelists or lecturers at many ILC-related events.  It’s also involved in a wide range of other activities, including co-producing internet videos introducing Oshu to overseas viewers. Currently, there are 20 members on the committee from 9 countries including the United States, England, the Philippines and Peru.

Three members came to the discussion on the 5th: committee chairman Lewis, Dean Ruetzler, and Anna Thomas, who are all from the United States and live in Mizusawa, Oshu.

Chairman Lewis talked about the importance of being able to work with languages besides English for ILC scientists and engineers visiting the area. Lewis said he didn’t expect Oshu residents to change their lives for international residents, but hoped they would teach international residents rules and manners.

Ms. Thomas, who works as ILC Internationalization Coordinator at Oshu City, explained ways international city residents felt inconvenienced in everyday life. She gave as one example worry about not being able to communicate using emergency phone numbers like 110 and 119, and expressed hope that hospitals and banks would develop more multilingual signage.

The city council members and ILC Support Committee members were split into three groups, presenting and discussing ideas for how to make the area an easier place to live for both Japanese and international residents. The groups produced various ideas including “hire international workers in hospitals and station people who can speak foreign languages in law enforcement and firefighting,” “broadcast in foreign languages on cable TV,” “teach the local dialect,” and “teach cooking that uses local ingredients.”

Oshu City Council ILC Investigative Committee Chariman Watanabe said, “There were many ideas on themes that could be worked on in parallel with attracting the ILC. We want to be active in a wide range of issues while making proposals to Oshu City.”