Today, over 400,000 people from outside Japan live in Tokyo as officially-registered foreign residents. The number of foreign citizens who hope to live permanently in Tokyo is increasing as well. In Tokyo, there are several communities formed by Koreans, Chinese, and other foreign nationals. While such foreign communities provide convenient, home-like environments for their members, it is also important for such long-term foreign residents to build a trusted relationship with local Japanese people. Dr. Advice talks with Meilin and Mr. Kim about how foreign people may make a good connection to their Japanese neighbors.
Dr. Advice Hi Meilin, how's your part-time work at the Chinese restaurant going? Are you still looking for an interior design job?
Meilin I haven't had the luck to find a new interior job, but I am enjoying working at the restaurant, especially because I can meet other Chinese people. The owner of the restaurant has lived in Japan for over 15 years and is such a good man that many people in the Chinese community there rely on him.
Dr. Advice Today, as more foreign people live in Tokyo than ever, we Japanese citizens need to understand foreign residents better and cooperate with them to create a good neighborhood together. The number of foreign nationals who live in Tokyo as a permanent home is also increasing. Those long-term residents can be great supporters for new foreign residents who just moved to Japan and joined the community. I believe your boss is a good community leader who is well aware of his role.
Kim In the Korean community in Shinjuku City, keeping good communications with local Japanese people has always been considered important. There are some Korean people who have lived there for over 20 years and now serve as members of local town committees along with other Japanese members.
Dr. Advice Many of those long-term residents serve as a middleman who bridges the foreign community and the Japanese locals--they are the key people whom Japanese can rely on as well. Building and maintaining a good relationship between Japanese and foreign neighbors on a daily basis is important for the whole community especially when mutual help becomes necessary in case of disasters and other emergency situations.
Kim My son has found a volunteer tutor who teaches him Japanese and helps him with other school works. His Japanese is improving at an amazing rate. Getting to know local Japanese people makes a huge difference.
Meilin When I first came to Japan, I often visited the foreign resident section of the city hall to ask for help. A good neighbor friend is the best if you can find one, but the local government is always a good source of information for foreign residents.
Dr. Advice In Shinjuku City, for example, the city hall and the Shinjuku Multicultural Plaza are playing a major role in answering questions and giving advice for foreign residents in the city.
Meilin I asked the foreign resident section at the city hall about what public services are available in my neighborhood. That was how I found the group of local volunteers who helped me study Japanese. It really helped me expand my chances to get to know my neighborhood.
Kim I think it is also important for us foreign residents to learn and respect local community rules. I became friends with my landlord after I asked him to teach me how to separate and dispose of trash. He was very helpful and taught me the rules in detail with gestures and drawings so that I could understand them easily.
Meilin Asking questions to neighbors is the key to becoming familiar with the local rules. As the proverb says, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do ."
Dr. Advice By keeping our mind open and getting to know each other better, we can build a truly international community where both Japanese and foreigners can live in harmony and comfort.
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