Iwate Prefecture asks foreign residents about challenges living in Japan as part of their establishment of a new comprehensive policy plan

The original article was published in the Iwate Nichinichi (December 10th edition). Read the original here.

The Iwate Prefectural Government will be creating a new 10-year comprehensive policy plan for 2019-2028, and on December 9th, they held an opinion exchange at the Maple shopping center in Mizusawa, Oshu City, with foreign residents of southern Iwate (hailing from 4 countries and 1 region). Together, they thought about necessary initiatives for the next ten years that would ensure the creation of a more multicultural society with the expectation that the ILC would be built in the area.

The aim was for the foreign residents to raise some issues about living in Iwate, which the prefecture will take into account when they promote new policies. Officials from Iwate met with Seon-hi Park (South Korea), Bill Lewis (USA), and Lian-qiu Yoshida (Taiwan) of Oshu City, Jing-hua Iwabuchi (China) of Hiraizumi Town, and Ami Murakami (Philippines) of Ichinoseki City.

These five foreign residents evaluated the prefecture and focused on necessary policies for realizing a multicultural society, as well as on “happiness” – a key word for the new 10-year policy plan. While the participants did praise Iwate for its rich natural beauty and kind people, they said that there were issues with the language barrier and inconvenient public transportation.

Bill Lewis, the chair of the ILC Support Committee, said, “Our children’s schools are falling apart, and that’s not good. It may be that we need to eventually build an international school.” Seon-hi Park said, “I wish there was a place where foreigners and Japanese people could naturally interact with each other. Even if there’s a language barrier, we can surely raise our happiness levels and standards of living if we remember to start with a smile.”

Yasuyuki Fujita, Director General of the Iwate Prefecture Department of Policy and Regional Affairs, said he would take into account their opinions. “I saw once again that we need support systems that closely respond to the needs of the region. We must proceed with creating structures that will allow foreign residents to live comfortably here.”