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No. of court interpreters falls in Japan despite increase in foreign defendants

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There has always been and will always be problems with translations in Japanese administration due to strictly monocultural history and a lack of wanting to change anything. I have to admit, it is changing little by little and very slowly, but is far from being adequate. I've had experiences with interpreters at the city hall using iPads to have a three-way conversation. I found the interpreters to be very biased, prejudiced and opinionated. They were not neutral as an interpreter should be. I got very angry with one interpreter and requested another.

The court interpreters have a very difficult and highly responsible position. They should be paid well and be of a very high standard. "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!"

12 ( +15 / -3 )

why even have trials here? 96% conviction rate....

9 ( +15 / -6 )

@Disillusioned

I have to admit, it is changing little by little and very slowly, but is far from being adequate. I've had experiences with interpreters at the city hall using iPads to have a three-way conversation. I found the interpreters to be very biased, prejudiced and opinionated.

They used an iPad for you? They used this cheap plastic handheld machine for me. While my soeaking isn't the best, my listening is great. So there were moments where the interpreter gave up on asking my question and instead took it upon themselves to answer for me.

The job is probably a really stressful one and if the pay doesn't compensate for the hardship, people won't be committed to doing their job.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

why even have trials here? 96% conviction rate....

LOL! exactly. Especially if the prosecutors are relying on getting a confession before the trial.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

@Dango bong

why even have trials here? 96% conviction rate....

Re-read the text.

"We have a grave responsibility as mistranslation could lead to a heavier sentence."

There's nothing about acquittals.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

First and foremost do not break the law of any country when your a guest. Secondly not a bad gig for a foreigner who needs a part time job, but the pay is low, not for the actual court date but for the translation of documents themselves as 4-5 hrs can easily turn to 6-8 or more non-stop depending on the language being translated.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

All should be paid for all the work they do including a retainer fee.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I have to say that Japan lack very behind this aspect for a civilized and industrialized nation.

In the European Union for example we can have 24 official translations in juridical cases which are the languages spoken within the union plus 20 from other nations worldwide.

And the pay-rate is pretty high for such a responsible job.

I wonder why they are never willing to change things in better.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Sachi Takahata, who has worked as a Tagalog interpreter for over 25 years, says they are usually offered around 15,000 yen for a hearing that lasts about an hour. Interpreters are not compensated for the paper translation work they must undertake ahead of the hearing which sometimes takes four to five hours

15 thousand yen but you have to work additional five hours ahead hearing that last for one hours. That total six hours, so six hours for 15 thousands that make only 2500 yen per hours. Teaching job can get same or even more than that translation.

"The training programs aren't good enough," she said. "I'd like the courts to review the amount we're paid and start focusing on educating interpreters."

So they have all problem combine low pay, poor training and less number of interpreters

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Clearly severely underpaid job for not only interpretation but translation as well, these are two DIFFERENT tasks!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Jesus....imagine trying to get a fair trial from this bunch of robots in suits.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

#1 It is time consuming, stressful, and demoralizing with low pay.

I have a Japanese friend who translates for English speaking defendants in Kasumigaseki.

She said when one detained defendant came to see the prosecutor, and she was the translator. It was one those good samaritan Westerner situations from another article except the Japanese criminal claimed to be hurt and claimed the foreigner attacked him for no reason.

The interrogation was recorded. However, the defendant told the prosecutor that he had proof that he was innocent. After my friend told the prosecutor, the prosecutor told the paralegal or assistant to turn off the camera in Japanese but did not tell my friend to inform the foreigner.

Once he heard the evidence, he told the assistant to resume recording. This was in Japanese, and the English speaker didn't know what was happening. Therefore, the prosecutor was suppressing evidence. (e.g. Ghosn type injustice!)

She had to go along with it. So, the translators are also expected to be accomplices. She said it made her feel uncomfortable. If she did say something, she would probably not be allowed to work there again.

I expect translators who are in these interrogations at the courthouse and police stations have seem some questionable actions by the law enforcers. Even more so if you are Japanese.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

When you're forced to confess, interpreters aren't needed.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

...they are usually offered around 15,000 yen for a hearing that lasts about an hour.

Interpreters are not compensated for the paper translation work they must undertake ahead of the hearing which sometimes takes four to five hours. Furthermore, being a court interpreter is not a stable job as there is no guarantee they will be regularly assigned to a trial.

Hmmm...Now why on earth might the numbers be declining?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

"My ears start ringing when I've been interpreting for a long period of time (in court), and I become more susceptible to making simple errors such as mistaking the yen for the dollar," she added.

Time for her to find a new line of work. If she is making simple mistakes like that then more than likely she is also making complex ones, and therefore is definitely doing defendants and the court a disservice. Having to battle a system that is already stacked completely against you and also having an interpreter who cannot consistently translate correctly is seriously problematic.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

 "We have a grave responsibility as mistranslation could lead to a heavier sentence."

nothing about acquittals because they're going to jail anyway. 96%. Makes the job rather pointless. Seems to have all the roles of a court but none of the outcomes.

Ghosn was right to flee such a banana republic as the prosecutors show us every time. A court in Japan means you're already guilty and not about holding the state accountable.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

The interrogation was recorded. However, the defendant told the prosecutor that he had proof that he was innocent. After my friend told the prosecutor, the prosecutor told the paralegal or assistant to turn off the camera in Japanese but did not tell my friend to inform the foreigner.

So, the translators are also expected to be accomplices. She said it made her feel uncomfortable. If she did say something, she would probably not be allowed to work there again.

So there is more reason why people don't want to be court translator, they can made translator to be accomplice for one side.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I’ve worked with real-time interpreters in Japan and must admit they can be incredible people. The truly professional ones take their jobs very seriously. The work is extremely stressful as people’s lives and big business can ride on the accuracy of their translations. And the work is quite mentally taxing. I object to not paying interpreters for the preparatory work they perform prior to an interpretation. It often requires interviewing the main speakers and reading volumes of documents to gain context.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Kanagawa used to have a group of volunteer interpreters who supported court cases. Most, if not all of them, cited that it was very hard to remain neutral and interpret due to the action of the prosecutors and court officials, as described above, and they often wanted to go beyond the interpreting role to help the accused. They all agreed it was the worst type of interpreting job to do in Japan.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I have to say that Japan lack very behind this aspect for a civilized and industrialized nation.

Japan is industrialized. As for civilized... I would refer to Silvafan's comment.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

not only interpretation but translation as well, these are two DIFFERENT tasks!

Absolutely. I've done volunteer interpretation work a few times to help out friends, etc., and it is severely brain-banging. It's like you're constantly flicking the switch in your head between the two languages. Do that with an electric lightbulb and you end up with a burned-out bulb - same with your head. Half a day's interpreting (with regular rests) leaves me ready for a day's R&R. I would never consider interpreting as a career. The people who can do it have all my respect, and I think they ought to be paid accordingly. Certainly more than we mere translators.

they are usually offered around 15,000 yen for a hearing that lasts about an hour. Interpreters are not compensated for the paper translation work they must undertake ahead of the hearing which sometimes takes four to five hours

As a professional translator, 15,000 is the minimum I would consider for 4 to 5 hours of translation work, depending on the content. Add on an hour's interpreting work (which will take up more than an hour, if you include waiting time, prep time, transport time etc.,) and you're talking easily¥10,000+ of free, highly skilled labour.

And they're surprised people aren't banging down the doors wanting to be interpreters??

Invalid CSRF

12 ( +12 / -0 )

By the time you see the inside of a courtroom, you're already convicted...

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I have to say that Japan lack very behind this aspect for a civilized and industrialized nation.

In the European Union for example we can have 24 official translations in juridical cases which are the languages spoken within the union plus 20 from other nations worldwide.

Was easy to find the most recent survey (2017 I believe).

In Japan, number of language actually used in all juridical cases is 39.

Number of language for which court-interpreter candidates are officially registered is 61

file:///C:/Users/JIJI/Downloads/US13000001201801002000.pdf

It doesn't seem the number of language applicable that are the problems

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Silvafan...

#1 It is time consuming, stressful, and demoralizing with low pay.

Your assessment is outstanding. I had my doubts and this nails the coffin. Can't wrap around why these circuit courts, knowing the vital necessity these translators play, are hesitant to justify the wage standards. Someone will soon pressure them in return by simply using scarcity and demand techniques...at least defray the same pay-rate for the screening/hearing and you got yourselves a deal.  Win-win situation!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@showchinmono

In Japan, number of language actually used in all juridical cases is 39.

Number of language for which court-interpreter candidates are officially registered is 61

file:///C:/Users/JIJI/Downloads/US13000001201801002000.pdf

It doesn't seem the number of language applicable that are the problems

But do they have interpreters to fulfill that number?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder why they are never willing to change things in better.

Gaman shinasai!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan is a lovely country, but the "justice" side of it really needs an overhaul. It feels like everyone there is stuck in the past.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

When the world is laughing at japan's justice system, no one will need interpreters. It time japan overhaul issues that must be done before everything falls apart.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Silvafan Feb. 5 10:15 am JST

Ouch. One wonders why the prosecutor even bothered recording to begin with. This is a relatively small case, so AFAIK it is still within his discretion to choose not to record anything at all. A tape with a hole in the recording is more suspicious than no recording at all.

Depending on how that case ended up (for example, with a kiso yuyo or an indictment) though, the prosecutor might have done defendant a favor. Many defendants don't know what's good for them, like saying a CCTV might have proof. The CCTV is much more likely to have the part where foreigner is tackling the Japanese than whatever the Japanese is doing beforehand.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Many defendants don't know what's good for them, like saying a CCTV might have proof. The CCTV is much more likely to have the part where foreigner is tackling the Japanese than whatever the Japanese is doing beforehand.

Nevertheless, a recording is visual evidence of what happened. Not having one opens up the possibility for people to spin lies. Justice is what is most important - both for the police to catch the guilty, and for the innocent to be protected. A visual recording supports this goal more than not having a visual recording. The non-existence will always benefit one party or the other, and stacks the odds against the goal of achieving justice. Having a visual recording stacks the odds in favor of a just outcome.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

headline of article is discriminatory - No. of court interpreters falls in Japan despite increase in foreign defendants - there has also been an increase in foreign plaintiff victims seeking justice after being victimized by Japanese.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Although I speak Japanese and my Japanese lawyer was bilingual Tokyo district court charged me JPY 35,000 for an interpreter for the judge. A month or so after the session when I received the official court transcript I learned how incompetent she was, made up words I didn't say. A friend is a top interpreter clients include Dalai Lama, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Anan, Japanese surgical societies and the Japanese Supreme Court. During preparation for my appearance at Tokyo High Court he instructed me to address the judges - I wish to make sure what I am about to say is entered into the court records. I brought along former US Attorney / TV celeb Kent Gilbert and my Japanese medical professional wife as witnesses. Later when I received the court transcripts there was no mention of my request or the statement! Japan legal racket is garbage.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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