NHK praised for deaf interpreter use in Tokyo Games ceremony broadcasts

By Komaki Niregane

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Although deaf interpreters are active overseas, such as on occasions when the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II delivers an annual Christmas address or for breaking news stories, the practice is still not widely used in Japan.

Uh... every night on NHK "E" television the news broadcast is both signed and subtitled in Japanese.

Not to mention that all the official PM press conferences as well.

It may not be perfect, yet the "practice" is WIDELY used everyday here on NHK

4 ( +9 / -5 )

I thought deaf,along with blind,were politically incorrect.

This is Japan, not the US.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

If that’s the best they can get from the Olympics, good for them.

‘Just don’t tell them it’s been normal for decades in the west.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

NHK praised for deaf interpreter use in Tokyo Games ceremony broadcasts

So they’re getting praised for doing standard practices with a handicapped event and audience…….ok.

In other words, getting commended for just doing their job?

This would be like McDonalds being praised for serving food.

Or a bus driver, getting people to their desired bus stop.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

NHK doesn't deserve to be praised.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I for one actually like NHK.

This sign language step is good. Sign language has two variables in English also in America.

ASL, American Sign Language is a completely different language. Signed English is what we would use in schools so the students can learn to read and write regular English. It is cumbersome and slow. So the fact that they are now using sign that deaf people actually use is much better in my opinion.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

cracaphatToday  07:45 am JST

I thought deaf,along with blind,were politically incorrect.

Where did you get that from?

The term "politically incorrect" is very loose. Often invented cases like the above is more of an indicator of the paranoia those that use the term suffer from.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Clarification of a point, since I see some commentators missing it and wondering why NHK is being praised for using sign language. My kneejerk reaction was the same. That isn't the part that is being praised.

They are being praised for using specifically deaf interpreters to convey sign language, which is fed to them from a non-deaf interpreter who is translating the original broadcast. The much more common practice is using the non-deaf interpreter directly, which can be harder for people who don't know Japanese to begin with (for example, people born hearing impaired).

This functionally is a two step translation. Spoken Japanese - MCJ - JSL. It lets the viewer have a native in their language as an interpreter.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Well then one can't help but wonder why, if the majority of the deaf population prefer JSL, why bother to keep using MCJ... Or to use it as an intermediary?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Seems like some of the posters here need an interpreter themselves since they're not really commenting on what's being praised or written in the article.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The deaf sign interpreters won praise in messages on Twitter, with many people speaking of their "rich facial expressions." According to Kimura, lip and eyebrow movements, among other facets, are important in the construction of JSL grammar.

...and how are deaf people supposed to read lip movements when everyone wears the magic masks??

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

At Rare. MCJ teaches

correct Japanese for written and reading purposes and just like Signed English it is cumbersome. Sort of like talking like a book

Real spoken language wants speed to get ideas across. This is like ASL but I can’t understand either of the Japanese. Have to resort to writing in my hand.

I bet in school classrooms JSL is not used but in the hallways most definitely.

2 ( +4 / -2 )


Thanks for info. Makes sense.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The article itself is rather cumbersome and seriously hard to follow in places.

Since most deaf people are said to have trouble with MCL does this mean that most deaf people do not watch the sign news 845 each evening on NHK-E? Maybe they could consider adding a JSL person to the end of the line, or are they afraid that this might detract from the educational opportunity being offered by their MCL broadcast?

Personally speaking as an outsider I like watching this short news slot as it helps me improve my reading ability.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It would be great if there was a truly international, universal sign language, but even BSL and ASL are so different, people are better off just writing to communicate with one another.

0 ( +2 / -2 )


That's tricky because language is cultural as well as communicative. You can often tell a good amount about a culture just by studying the language and the ways it is used. In a similar fashion we don't have a singular world spoken language (even if there are a few that are the most prevalent).

Not saying it would be impossible, but I feel like any kind of universal sign would be a secondary language for most people.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )


Not saying it would be impossible, but I feel like any kind of universal sign would be a secondary language for most people.

Yes, it would be difficult, but English itself is a secondary language for most people. I think it would be great to give all kids at least a few lessons in their local sign language.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Then hopefully they will continue to utilize them in regular programming

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I dislike NHK as much as the next guy but i give them credit in this instance. A little step in the right direction.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Well done NHK. Good to see them copy what other countries have been doing for years.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Rare: no probs and thanks for the thanks!

one of the issues with ASL and signed English is that we use fingers for spelling. It helps to cover words when you do not know the sign for it.

But for example the letter “T” comes across as a very bad gesture in regular non deaf chat in Japanese. Means sort of like the middle finger in America or the two fingers swooped up in Australia. In other words, F-You slang

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'll admit I have no understanding of sign language. But I smile when watching the woman doing the deaf interpretation for Nicola Sturgeon's announcements on Covid (sample link below) in Scotland. I often imagine she's signing something like, "Now she's talking some nonsense about Covid. By the way, she's got a stain down the back of her dress. Did you see Love Island last night? It was great, eh..."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

shogun36: "In other words, getting commended for just doing their job?"

I guess when you don't even expect the bare minimum, you can be surprised if you get it. It's a shame they didn't use the opportunity to introduce more universal sign language, since it's an international event. Perhaps they did.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I thought deaf,along with blind,were politically incorrect.

Actually, many of the Deaf have their own unique culture and don't view the term Deaf as either degrogatory or segregationist. There are those who even find the idea of hearing aids, and other operations or procedures aimed at attempting to give them hearing again to be... offensive. They are proud of who they are

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I thought deaf,along with blind,were politically incorrect.

First time I've heard that.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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