Abstract Yuko Takeda, Juntendo University, Japan
Plain Japanese to promote health among people from overseas
There are 2.9 million registered foreign nationals in Japan as of June 2021, among which 200 thousand people (7 %) are aged 65 or older. About 85 % (170 thousand) of those are from Asian countries, in which 130 thousand are from the Korean Peninsula, former colonies or their descendants followed by 23 thousand from China, and 15 thousand from South America including Brazil (11000) and Peru (3400).
Due to linguistic, cultural, and institutional barriers, these foreign residents and their families often face difficulties. Among many challenges, a language barrier at hospitals is one of the biggest concerns. Ageing adds another challenge especially in communication due to hearing loss and/or impaired cognitive functions. Since 2018, we have been advocating the use of plain Japanese in healthcare settings for patients with difficulty in hearing and understanding. In this presentation, the author describes a training session provided for medical professionals and students in cooperation with international residents who share their experiences of living in Japan as foreign residents. Since many medical staff believe they have to speak fluent English to communicate with foreign patients, the session provides a truly eye-opening experience and prepares them to provide patient-centered care. Plain Japanese is also effective when using translator apps or working with an interpreter.