MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Misawa City officials debuted a new system this week to better communicate with Americans during times of emergency.

The city will now send English-language e-mail or cell phone updates on events such as earthquakes, tidal waves and fires to those who register.

City officials said they’ve been sending Japanese language alerts for about two years. The decision to add the English updates was the result of meetings with base officials last summer.

In March of 2010, Japanese and U.S. military officials said the emergency update system should be fine-tuned after some Americans complained they were unable to understand emergency broadcast warnings of an earthquake-driven tidal wave in late February.

More than 1,600 homes — including a handful rented by Americans — were evacuated along the coastline Feb. 28, about two miles east of Misawa Air Base.

City officials will be in the foyer of the base exchange from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday to help base residents register.

You can also sign up by:

* Sending a blank e-mail from your cell phone to You will receive instructions on how to complete the registration.

* Visiting from your computer. Select the English option and follow the registration instructions. You can also use your cell phone to scan the “QR” code on the website.

author picture
Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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