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Multilingual Guidelines for In-store Signs in the Retail Industry were Developed

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has developed Multilingual Guidelines for In-store Signs in the Retail Industry.
It expected that people involved in the retail business will utilize the guidelines to ascertain the needs of overseas customers visiting their shops and promote the development of the appropriate and realistic multilingual environments.

1. Background

The Government of Japan has set a target of multiplying the amount of direct investment from other countries in Japan toward 2020. As a step to achieve the target, the Five Promises for Attracting Foreign Businesses to Japan, decided by INVEST JAPAN on March 17, 2015, stipulate the enhancement of providing multilingual services in the retail industry so as to help non-Japanese people enjoy shopping in Japan while communicating in their own languages.

In addition, Japan has been taking a variety of efforts for realizing the goal titled “Realization of Japan as a Tourism-oriented Country.” As is seen in the current establishment of about 29,000 duty-free shops (as of October 1, 2015), an increase of more than 10,000 over six months, it has been an important perspective for Japan to stimulate efforts for taking in inbound demand.

From the perspectives of both direct investment in Japan and Japan as a tourism-oriented country, the retail industry has been asked to promote and enhance the provision of multilingual in-store signs.

2. Outline of the guidelines

METI has prepared Multilingual Guidelines for In-store Signs in the Retail Industry, a collection of specific measures that will be helpful for retail shops when introducing multilingual in-store signs and developing an environment in which overseas visitors can enjoy their shopping, targeting not only such shops that many overseas customers have already been visiting but also those that have the potential or desire to increase the number of overseas customers.

The guidelines showcase know-how, along with simple case examples, on providing multilingual guides about sales floors, products, settlement of bills, additional information and emergencies, about which many overseas visitors asked for in the conducted survey in particular.

Example of common pictograms or signs in English available as in-store signs:

Release date

April 4, 2016

Division in Charge

Distribution and Logistics Policy Division, Commerce, Distribution and Industrial Safety Policy Group

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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