Multilingual consultation for foreigners in quake-hit Ishikawa, central Japan

Multilingual consultation has been offered in quake-hit Ishikawa Prefecture in central Japan to support foreign residents who lost their homes and jobs due to the New Year's Day earthquake.

Officials from the Ishikawa Foundation for International Exchange and the Immigration Services Agency jointly held a consultation session in Kanazawa City on Thursday.

Visitors could get the service for free with assistance of interpreters in multiple languages. Consultation was also available online.

A Filipino visitor was working as a care giver at a group home for the elderly in Wajima City under the government program for specified skilled workers.

But she lost her income source as the group home suspended operation after the quake.

She said her dormitory was damaged and unsafe to stay, so she spent about a week at a shelter, then moved to an acquaintance's home in Kanazawa.

She asked a consultant if she can get any financial support for quake-affected people and received advice on how to get such benefits.

She said her life is now so tough with no job, as she needs money for everything, including a place to live.

The immigration agency says the number of foreign nationals working in the hard-hit Noto region, including foreign technical interns, was over 3,200 as of June last year.

But the service desk accepted only five consultations, including those online, at Thursday's session.

The foundation plans to hold another session on Thursday next week at the Ishikawa Prefectural International Exchange Center in Kanazawa.

Takahashi Kenshi, a senior official at the foundation, says the body is trying to deliver information to foreign residents, but some of them are apparently not updated with such information.

The official is calling on local people who know foreign nationals to inform them about the service.