The Japanese Prime Minister’s Office has launched an English-language Twitter account giving translated updates to the world on the situation quickly unfolding in Japan. Since the earthquake, registering 8.9 on the Richter scale, hit last Saturday, the media has been constantly updating the breaking news as it develops. This account, @JPN_PMO, offers translations from the official disaster Twitter account, @Kantei_Saigai.
@Kantei_Saigai gives news updates regularly primarily for the benefit of the media and citizens currently in Japan, offering times of press conferences and providing details for evacuations. The account also reveals an insight into the general welfare of the country during the crisis. While the translations available from @JPN_PMO are not perfect, for the many tourists and foreign nationals within Japan who are unable to read Japanese, the account will offer a chance to access information about the earthquake quickly and easily.
This is effectively the first time that Twitter has been used in such a way to supplement state media and radio messages, the usual media by which disaster information is delivered. Whilst it comes at a terrible time, the Japanese government’s innovative use of the technology recognises the importance of the social network in the 21st century and how far it has progressed. Many prominent Tweeters have been particularly vocal in their donation efforts and support, with many offering donations for retweets. The platform has been used for charitable purposes in the past, offering a ‘wildfire’ effect as Tweets spread quickly around the internet.
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