Yokohama Association for International Communications and Exchanges was established in 1981. A quarter century has passed since then, and the situation in Yokohama has changed significantly. Due to the revision of the Immigration Control and Refugee-Recognition Law in 1990, the number of foreigners from Asia and South America, or so-called "Newcomers", has been increasing. In 2009, the number of registered foreign residents in Yokohama has approached 80 thousand, or over 2% of the total population of Yokohama. International marriages now constitute 5.1% of the total number of marriages in Japan, and one out of 30 babies born in Japan has one parent who is a foreign national. The number of foreign national students is rapidly increasing. There are 5596 so-called "foreign-related students" at elementary and junior high schools in the City of Yokohama. They are foreign national students, children of naturalized Japanese parents, or children with at least one foreign-national parent. Of these, 1260 need extra assistance to learn Japanese. The largest number of foreign citizens are from China followed by Korea, and the Philippines. Yokohama is a true "International City". There are foreigners from over 150 countries living in Yokohama.
In cooperation with citizen volunteers, YOKE dispatches interpreters to public institutions and schools. It also dispatches support workers to help students learning their mother tongues at schools. Demand, however, is growing much faster than supply. For example, telephone consultations: YOKE offers a multi-lingual service that reached about 4400 cases in the year 2008. The consultations are complicated as they can deal with such issues as divorce, DV, loss of employment and changes of visa status. In 2008, as the nature of the consultations became more serious, YOKE took over management of the Naka International Lounge.
YOKE also supports international organizations such as ITTO, CITYNET, WFP, FAO, and UNU-IAS which are located at the "Yokohama International Organizations Center" in Pacifico Yokohama. Together with these International Organizations, YOKE promotes international cooperation at the community level. Moreover, YOKE manages and operates the "Yokohama International Student House (YISH)" in Tsurumi ward. YISH arranges classes for elementary and junior high school students and seminars for Yokohama citizens that are taught by international students. The classes increase interaction between international students and the citizens of Yokohama. Due to the global economic recession, more and more international students wish to find jobs in Japan. YISH not only holds intensive seminars for international students, offers support during their search for employment, and introduces them to local companies, but also helps them to apply for internships. In 2009, as part of EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement), YOKE started a project that supports prospective licensed nursing care workers from Indonesia to help with learning the Japanese language and how to deal with daily life in Japan. Consultation services are also provided.
Yokohama Association for International Communications and Exchanges is striving to create a better multi-cultural community through the creation of activities that will help improve the lives of foreign residents in Yokohama. Your support and cooperation are greatly appreciated.
Chairperson and CEO Masako Maeda