The Tsukuba International Network, an ad hoc organization of representatives from various research institutes, the city, and volunteer groups (including the Alien Times) meets several times a year to coordinate efforts towards improving the lives of the international community. The following topics were discussed at the Sept. 4 meeting.
International education in Tsukuba. A workshop is being planned for sometime in the next year to deal with creative ways of better meeting the educational needs of foreign children in Tsukuba (as well as "returnee" Japanese children.
An immigration office in Tsukuba. Considerable efforts are being made to bring an office to Tsukuba in the near future. While certainly not a "done deal", the prospects are definitely looking much better.
Living in Tsukuba Web Page. Efforts are being made to greatly improve the information available in English on various home pages related to Tsukuba and to link them together in such a way that searching for specific information becomes much easier.
Route numbers on buses. TIN's first success was in getting the local bus company to agree to put numbers on their bus routes and signs using "romaji" so that people who cannot read Japanese could be able to use their services. A report was given on the present status, which is still somewhat of a half-hearted effort with the number sometimes being left off (or as in one humorous example, upside down so that route "61" read "19"). Additional pressure will be put on Kantetsu to get their act together and make bus travel more user-friendly for those who can't read Japanese.
Shopping in English. Tin is working with the Chamber of Commerce to encourage local stores to have personnel who can make transactions in English. Such stores will be allowed to display a sign saying "English is spoken here."
Ninomiya House. A report was given to the effect that only 30% of the new Ninomiya House' single rooms are occupied (while the rate jumps to 80% for couples and families). Eligibility has been somewhat expanded and will perhaps be expanded in the future. Presently, only persons employed at national and private research institutes and those working at the University of Tsukuba are eligible for residence. As a general rule, the period of residency must be at least 3 months and up to 2 years.
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