After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the Japanese government identified the lack of proficiency in the Japanese language as one characteristic of foreigners that should be considered in disaster prevention planning. This article seeks to understand how proficiency in a local language affects disaster information gathering behavior by using the results of a questionnaire survey conducted after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Respondents were categorized based on their Japanese and English language abilities. Their media mode, language preferences, information importance, and information-gathering difficulties also were examined. It was found that foreigners skilled in Japanese demonstrated similar information gathering behavior as Japanese respondents, but foreigners unskilled in Japanese showed little usage of Japanese-language media. This group also encountered difficulties due to a lack of Japanese proficiency, but many members were able to acquire some level of Japanese-language information through Internet-based methods. To address language proficiency in disaster prevention planning, information provision in languages other than Japanese should be increased, and Japanese information should be shared in a way that facilitates translation. Although this survey was significant in its scope, the results should be considered within the limitations of the Internet-based response collection and focus only on the less-affected area of Japan.
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