Fumiko Hayashi has been mayor of Yokohama since 2009. Her previous roles include president of BMW Tokyo, president of Tokyo Nissan Auto Sales, and chairperson and CEO of the Japanese supermarket chain Daiei. In 2006, Forbes magazine named her 39th most powerful woman in the world, the highest for a Japanese woman. Ms. Hayashi is the president of the Mayors Association of Designated Cities in Japan and also serves as a member of the Council for Gender Equality of the Cabinet Office of Japan. She has written several books on management and workforce relationships.
One of the priority initiatives in the Yokohama International Strategy, formulated in February 2016, is developing a creative society based on multiculturalism.
The number of foreign residents in Yokohama and other major Japanese cities has increased over the past few years and many are settling as permanent residents.
Yokohama has set up 11 International Lounges around the city to offer multilingual information and consultation as well as Japanese lessons, volunteer interpreters, interaction with Japanese and more.
The city is working particularly hard to support children of foreigners and the Tsurumi International Lounge has a “Kangaroo Salon” that combines childcare support with Japanese lessons. Parents can learn Japanese along with their children and speak with staff about any childcare concerns. They can also meet and become friends with those who have similar concerns.