Photo/IllutrationDisaster information is shown in Tagalog in a test at the Gifu International Center in Gifu. (Shoko Matsuura)

GIFU--The Gifu International Center in April started using Facebook to quickly offer disaster information in six languages for non-Japanese residents during emergencies.

Disaster warnings, evacuation instructions and data on water levels in rivers and landslide risks provided by the prefectural government will be shown on Facebook in simple Japanese, English, Chinese, Portuguese, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

The center already had dedicated Facebook accounts for each of the languages. Now, all the multiple-language information will posted on one page.

“I hope the service will help ease anxiety of non-Japanese residents,” said Miyo Katsuragawa, 38, a center official involved in the project.

Gifu Prefecture’s foreign-born population is growing.

In past emergencies, center officials wrote disaster-related information and non-Japanese staff translated the text. But the process took much time, and manual translation was difficult at night.

During the torrential rain last summer, foreign residents complained that they knew an emergency was occurring through wireless systems and TV shows, but they could not read the warnings because of the kanji characters used.

In response, the center and the prefectural government jointly developed the new system.

The information on natural disasters will be automatically translated and posted on Facebook within a minute.

The translated information will also be sent to local municipalities, allowing them to share it on their websites and social networking sites.