In Mie Prefecture, where more than 40 thousand foreigner citizens live, there are several non- profit organizations and other entities that perform various activities and support in order to all citizens, including these foreigners residents, can live in a pleasant environment. Today we are going to present one of these entities, the Iga no Tsutamaru.
The NPO Tsutamaru is located in Iga city, which has a population of 96 thousand people and approximately 4.4% are foreign residents. Within Mie Prefecture, Iga city has the highest percentage of foreign residents.
“Excuse-me, good afternoon. Is here NPO Tsutamaru?”
“Twenty years ago, I lived in Indonesia and, that time, I was a foreigner, facing difficulties on local language, and much more hard times when I was sick. After returning to Japan, I realized that in Iga city there were many foreigners coming from different countries. I thought in which way I could help them and I had many friends who also lived abroad, so, we gathered in 20 people and started our work in 1999.
“Today we have our own office and we provide several kinds of service, always aiming to promote multicultural awareness. Multicultural awareness is not just to help foreigners, but also helps people who live together with them to have the initiative to keep a good relationship or even governmental bodies, such as city halls, to start thinking about transmitting useful information, such as public support system, among others. We provide these and others kinds of support to foreigners in order to become our city in a nice place where there is a multicultural awareness.
“The fact we live together with many foreigners and see them struggling to live in our city, facing difficulties to understand Japanese language or because they do not have any knowledge on some government support system, I believe it also involves all of us. So, if we teach something related to a language, related to some public support system, bridging the gap between government and foreigner bodies, they will feel good and therefore all we will be. This good result will strength our city. Our activities aim to help foreigners, since their vigorous presence brings strong benefits to the city.
“The most difficult thing for foreigners who come to Japan is Japanese language. Here in Tsutamaru we have Japanese classes, both individual and group. If someone is interested in learning Japanese language, please contact us.
Also, there are people who are interested in Japanese culture, within the courses we do, like “mazikushi” course, the one most in demand. We teach in a very simple way in order people can prepare them at home easily. We also carry out the “bentou” course. There are many people enrolled in courses related to food.
We also provide interesting courses on how to make tax refund, as well as explanatory lecture on garbage classification, among other Japanese rules.”
“Our mainly services are on translation an interpretation, mainly for foreigners who need to translate birth or marriage certificates to renew their visas.
For those who need to go to a hospital, we also provide translation service in medical field. It is not costly, so, if you need this service is just to call Tsutamaru. We also provide service on translations at schools. In meetings on school bulletin delivery, for parents who wish to know if their children are doing well in studies.
Besides helping foreigners in everyday life difficulties, when you do not know the content of a report, when you have any doubt, when you do not know where to consult, we are able to clarify any doubt here in the office. We have interpreters who speak Portuguese and Spanish.
“I believe that like in Mie, there are several NPOs in Japan, but I cannot say there are entities everywhere, so if you have any doubt, you can search by city halls in your cities, or even here in the same prefecture at Governmental Headquarter or even at Tabunka Kyousei-ka (multicultural integration division) located at Ust- Tsu Building.
“In Japan there are about 2 million foreigners and many of them intent to live here for life, and we also may refer them as immigrants. Since we live in the same place if there is not a multicultural integration, both sides will lose. And, looking at the world, where there are several information about different cultures and the society is globalized, only Japan will stay behind. I think it is necessary to make the multicultural integration, otherwise we will be behind in several aspects.
“Hello, everyone! Do you enjoy your life in Japan? If you are discouraged, enjoy the opportunity to study Japanese. Learning the language, you will surely have double or triple satisfaction.
If you all feel satisfied living here in Japan, I would be very happy in make something to society along with you. I count on the collaboration of all!
I would like you, by learning Japanese, are able to enjoy Japan even more.”
“I see foreigners as my partners, I even consider you as brothers, so I would like to struggle with you for the future of Japan. For that, it is necessary for us to get closer even more, I would like you to learn Japanese language and also teach us more about your culture, I want to struggle with you all!
On number of foreigner residents, Mie Prefecture is the third largest in Japan. Many of these residents do not speak Japanese fluently and, many times, they do not know where to get support when have questions related to children education, government subsidies, among others.
Organizations like NPO Tsutamaru, that help to intermediate relations between Japanese society and foreigners, help in the integration within local communities.