Multilingual contact center opens to support foreign tourists for medical interpretation


April 13, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Masanao Chinen


On April 1, Okinawa Prefecture opened a “Be.Okinawa Inbound Medical Interpretation Contact Center” to provide interpretation by phone at medical sites where communication with foreign tourists is an issue.

Travel agents and medical institutions can receive interpreter service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling the center.

The center aims to alleviate the burden on the staff at medical facilities, as well as to set up a hospitable environment for foreigners.


The center supports interpretations in six languages including English, Chinese, and Korean.

There is no charge for the service aside from the rate for a telephone call.

In order to avoid amassing inquiries, the center only provides the number to tourist enterprises such as hotels, tourist facilities, medical institutions, and fire authorities.


In 2017, foreign tourists to Okinawa increased by 22.1 percent from the previous year to about 2.54 million people, and the demand for medical attention also rose.


In a field trial at 16 medical intuitions in 2016, most foreigners’ medical needs were for mild symptoms such as colds and minor injuries.

There were requests to expand the trial to clinics as well. The Be.Okinawa Center expanded its trial to include about one thousand medical institutions in the prefecture.

Troubles related to treatment policies and medical expenses are also occurring in the medical field.

The center expects that these problems could be reduced through interventions by expert interpreters.


The Prefectural Government’s Culture, Tourism and Sports Division Director Takao Kadekaru called for the center to be used to reduce the burden at medical sites.


For inquiries such as the Be.Okinawa Contact Center’s number of business operators, call the administrative office at 098 (868) 5230.



(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)


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