politics

Gov't blames translator over Abe's World War I remark

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You know, at work I always tell my guys: "Don't worry about what happened in the past. What are we going to do today and tomorrow to improve the situation?"... I know it's difficult for these politicians and the media to do so, but can we please move on?

5 ( +12 / -6 )

That happens if you can not speak english!!

5 ( +15 / -10 )

Was this a Japanese firm that did the translating? I guess they have listened to so much of Abe's right wing rhetoric that they thought they would just fill in some missing information. I just hope they weren't using Google translate!

3 ( +14 / -10 )

So, a politician claims he was miscostrued - this happens all the time, either unintentionally or not. In a high level international forum with several languages involved, the chances increase and some people use the situation to their advantage. Obviously, if someone clearly did NOT say a particular phrase, then it is perfectly fair to defend his position. Speaking as someone with firsthand experience interpreting, the clue is in the job title, although this doesn't mean the interpreter has freedom to insert unvoiced opinions. When politicians are discussing at an international gathering they should be even more vigilant about plain speaking to avoid confusion. Yeah, good luck with that...

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Sure! Just use the poor interpreter as a scape goat and blame it on him?? Her?? Maybe Abe San needs to take a few man to man private lessons at Nova??

8 ( +14 / -7 )

@Zenkan

If Abe had his speech translated beforehand, he must have given the speech in English. I don't think it was a problem with the interpreters at the summit. i.e. if Abe made this WWI reference while speaking in English, that is what the interpreters would have relayed.

Someone on Abe's staff or perhaps even Abe himself could have checked the document before giving such an important speech....

4 ( +7 / -3 )

As a professional simultaneous interpreter, I would like to stand up for my (unknown) colleague here. I checked the original Japanese. After being asked whether there is any possibility of military conflict over the Senkaku Island, Abe gives a round the houses answer that includes the phrase. 「英国とドイツは経済的依存度が高く、最大の貿易相手だったにもかかわらず戦争が起きた」

Translation: "Even though the UK and Germany had deep economic links and Germany was the UK's largest trading partner, the war still broke out". (From the Japanese grammar, it seems a little unclear whether the "largest trading partner" goes one way or both ways, but I would welcome others opinions on this).

China is Japan's largest trading partner. Surely then the translator is surely well within her rights to add "similar situation" for clarity. Simultaneous interpreters often add information based on clear context. When simultaneously interpreting Japanese, when the verb comes at the end of the sentence, it is very hard, even for top professionals, to produce the kind of flowing grammatical English one sees in a textbook. Some reworking makes it easy for the listener and is the mark of a good professional (hence the word interpreter?)

But the key point is this: If Abe does not think the UK-Germany relationship pre-WWI is similar to the current Japan-China relationship, why refer to it? Is he then, by his own admission, responding to a delicate question about the possibility of war with China by using a completely irrelevant example? Anyone doing so would certainly be foolish. Perhaps the ministry should be thanking the interpreter for crediting Abe with the intelligence to make relevant and cogent remarks.

I would add that the foreign ministry is very naive if they believe the whole storm is not down to the addition of the single phrase "similar situation". The very reference is just inviting trouble, no matter how it is couched.

Abe has claimed his emphasis was on "we must make sure we do not go down the same road" a part of his response that was also interpreted, but left out by editors in their headlines.

The foreign ministry must be well aware that the overall tone of the reporting is heavily influenced by how Abe is perceived by the Western press, and he can't blame his translators for that.

48 ( +53 / -5 )

Speak English, man.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Japanese often use the "you didn't understand my Japanese" dodge, with foreigners,when trying to weasel out of things.

23 ( +33 / -10 )

Just another indicator that the government owns the media. I believe it'll get worse before it gets better.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

jpn_guy Feb. 04, 2014 - 07:59AM JST Translation: "Even though the UK and Germany had deep economic links and Germany was the UK's largest trading partner, the war still broke out". (From the Japanese grammar, it seems a little unclear whether the "largest trading partner" goes one way or both ways, but I would welcome others opinions on this).

Look at the examples of Germany before WWI. They were the second largest economy in the world. Had one of the biggest manufacturing bases and best army, not to mention a scientific advancement. Now if you ask anyone in the early 20th century about Germany, people would say they are going places. They would be the most powerful nation at the rate they were going. At the time, Britain was one of their biggest trade partners. However, Germany made mistakes. They made all sorts of threatening statements against their neighbors, including even telling France how they would invade France. They told Britian one day they would rule the waves. Thet told Russia they needed more eastern lands. Then they built a big navy which forced Britian to build an even bigger navy. They forced Russia, France and Britian to form an alliance even though they all hated each other, which is a quite a feat of international relations. To put in plain, despite the advantages of Germany at the time, they created major military alliance against it, and had no useful allies. That sort of sounds like China today. China is doing everything Germany did over a century ago.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Embellishing for the sake of clarity is commonly practiced by translators and interpreters in Japan, especially in the case of Japanese politicians! Otherwise, the world would be clueless as to their intentions and thoughts.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I remember once being the translator who copped all the blame once.

I translated everything for the Japanese client into matching English as best I could, but apparently it turned out that I was REALLY being hired to mistranslate everything by speaking a lot of BS to this client in order to make the sale go through, and my translation wasn't helping. I guess they figured that having a foreigner talk a lot of nonsense would be convincing.

So I got fired.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Surely then the translator is surely well within her rights to add "similar situation" for clarity.

I understand where you're coming from, but there's a difference between editing a phrase for clarity and editorializing, and in this situation I think the interpreter overstepped the line.

Adding the phrase "in a similar situation" caused an international incident that would not have occurred otherwise.

China wouldn't have been working from the English translation - they've got their own people to translate directly to Chinese, and they would have immediately seen the error. They seized on the discrepancy in translation in the English language media to respond to. Not the first time this has happened, either.

2 ( +9 / -8 )

I was going to write this off as an excuse from the government, but if the Japanese transcript does not contain this phrase then it's a serious mess-up from the translation / interpreting company. In international politics, at a time of great tension, that's a massive difference.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Surely then the translator is surely well within her rights to add "similar situation" for clarity.

Surely translating PM on international forum don't give any right to translator to add something to his words.

If Abe does not think the UK-Germany relationship pre-WWI is similar to the current Japan-China relationship, why refer to it?

To show that it happened in the past and he hopes that won't happen in the future? Just my guess.

Is he then, by his own admission, responding to a delicate question about the possibility of war with China by using a completely irrelevant example?

That's only an example that two countries with close economical ties can go into war.

-1 ( +7 / -9 )

If Abe had his speech translated beforehand, he must have given the speech in English. I don't think it was a problem with the interpreters at the summit.

False. The article says Mr Abe was asked a question. That means he gave an unscripted answer.

Surely then the translator is surely well within her rights to add "similar situation" for clarity.

No. The interpreter is supposed to "add" nothing, as you well know.

The foreign ministry must be well aware that the overall tone of the reporting is heavily influenced by how Abe is perceived by the Western press, and he can't blame his translators for that.

The "Western press"? I think you must mean the blinkered ROK press and the impotent communist press of PRC?

3 ( +10 / -8 )

jpn_guyFeb. 04, 2014 - 07:59AM JST As a professional simultaneous interpreter, I would like to stand up for my (unknown) colleague here. I checked the >original Japanese. After being asked whether there is any possibility of military conflict over the Senkaku Island, Abe >gives a round the houses answer that includes the phrase. 「英国とドイツは経済的依存度が高く、最大の貿易相手 だったにもかかわらず戦争が起きた」

Translation: "Even though the UK and Germany had deep economic links and Germany was the UK's largest trading >partner, the war still broke out". (From the Japanese grammar, it seems a little unclear whether the "largest trading >partner" goes one way or both ways, but I would welcome others opinions on this).

I'm no interpreter but I translate that Japanese text as "Despite Britain and Germany having a high level of economic interdependency and being it's (their) biggest trading partner(s), war still occurred". I do agree that the "trading partner" is not clear but I do not think that affects the translation one way or the other. But I would ask you, why is a "similar situation" needed to be added to the original translated statement? BTW, do you have a link for the entire Abe statement?

0 ( +6 / -7 )

BTW, do you have a link for the entire Abe statement?

Here's thoroughly record of how it was reported in various medias starting from Financial Times (and explaining who wrote the article) to Japanese sources.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Aww! I missed the link: http://finalvent.cocolog-nifty.com/fareastblog/2014/01/demain-ef66.html

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The islands are not in dispute - they belong to Japan. Please report accurately.

-5 ( +4 / -10 )

This sounds like something to be expected from the current government. "No, it wasn't us! It was the interpreter!" Also rhymes well with the Japanese "cultural" trait of kicking downwards and licking upwards.

-1 ( +8 / -8 )

Should have used that "expert" guy who did the sign language interpretation at the Mandela memorial services, ya think ?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Chenchan, thanks.

"偶発的に武力衝突が起こらないようにすることが重要だ。今年は第1次世界大戦から100年目。英国もドイツも経済的な依存度は高く最大の貿易相手国だったが、戦争は起こった。偶発的な事故が起こらないよう、コミュニケーション・チャンネル(通信経路)をつくることを申し入れた」と述べた。"

I just wanted to see the whole text that jpn_guy posted. I translate the above Abe text as: "It is imperative that accidental military conflict(s) do not occur. This year is 100 years since WWI. Despite Britain and Germany having a high level of economic interdependency and being it's (their) biggest trading partner(s), war still occurred. So that unintentional accidents(incidents) do not occur the creation of a channel of ciommunication has been requested."

Any of you native JP speakers feel free to point out any errors. But I still dont see any reason for "similar situation" to be added. Nor do I find the above inflammatory in any way .

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Enough about the bloody War(s) already...

0 ( +2 / -3 )

When President Carter visited Poland back in 1977, in his prepared remarks in English, Carter told the Poles , "I have come...to learn your opinions and understand your desires for the future." The U.S. interpreter translated this as, "I desire the Poles carnally." In case of Abe, a political leader to publicly make such statements taken as war could not be avoided is a problem. Abe is the one concerned and he's talking like a commentator.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Chenchan: "Surely translating PM on international forum don't give any right to translator to add something to his words". @hidingout "No. The interpreter is supposed to "add" nothing, as you well know".

Under any rational analysis, "similar situation" is entirely implied by the remarks under any so the translator is not really "adding" anything. Perhaps I should not have used the word "add" in my additional comment, as this seems to have confused you both. There is a huge difference between "adding" in the sense of summing up what all intelligent people can agree is entirely implied by the context and "adding" in the sense of introducing new ideas at the whim of the interpreter. The latter is simply not the case here and it is disingenuous to characterize the incident in that way.

@hokkaido guy "Adding the phrase "in a similar situation" caused an international incident that would not have occurred otherwise". I think it is stretching credulity to suggest all the diplomatic fallout is down to these four words. The PM made the analogy himself. The Foreign Ministry is exaggerating the effect of presence or absence of 似たような状況 in the original to deflect blame.

@Ossan America - I was merely commenting that the interpreter would have been thinking should I translate "largest trading partner" bilaterally or unilaterally, as Mr. Abe is not clear on this point. I agree it is not so important. I am simply trying to convey the interpreter's mental load and the inherent difficultly of the task.

Too many people seem to think that a simultaneous interpretation of an unscripted answer should read like a textbook passage. Simultaneous interpreting is not written translation. As Knox Harrington points out, this is just another case of the powerful trying to get off the hook by blaming those in a weaker position who can't argue back.

Shame on the Foreign Ministry for what is essentially bullying.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

sfjp330 FEB. 04, 2014 - 08:21AM JST

To put in plain, despite the advantages of Germany at the time, they created major military alliance against it, and had no useful allies. That sort of sounds like China today. China is doing everything Germany did over a century ago.

Your post is not entirely true. Germany land mass, population and economy is smaller than today PRC. German killed Jews. Chinese did not. There are many Jewish of Chinese citizens are living free as birds in PRC. It has been long time ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_China

PRC is veto power holding UN security council member. Germany was not PRC citizens have no compulsory military service now. Germany had it back then. PRC can afford to lose entire population of US and Japan. Germany could not afford at that time. Cash rich PRC sovereign fund is buying the resource rich region of planet pieces by pieces. Germany could not afford. PRC has ICBMs with MIRVs which can balance the out come of conflict. Germany did not.

PRC may have no military alliance. Germany had Japan and Italy as alliance. However PRC is receiving votes from third world developing nations for not being condemned by US as human rights violations. Germany did not receive any votes from any nation.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

hatsoffFEB. 04, 2014 - 08:33AM JST I was going to write this off as an excuse from the government, but if the Japanese transcript does not contain this phrase then it's a serious mess-up from the translation / interpreting company. In international politics, at a time of great tension, that's a massive difference.

Not so fast. The claim of Japanese transcripts hasn't been verified. Second, Abe's government could have easily doctored the transcript to weasel out of what he said.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

I believe he made a mess and then cowardly and ungentlemanly put the blame over unfortunate interpreter. Therefore, I stand with the interpreter.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Athletes Feb. 04, 2014 - 09:21AM JST Your post is not entirely true. Germany land mass, population and economy is smaller than today PRC. German killed Jews. Chinese did not. There are many Jewish of Chinese citizens are living free as birds in PRC. It has been long time ago.

You have the time period wrong. Subject is about prior to First World War (1914-1918). How many Jews were killed by Germans prior to WWI? The mass killing of the Jews took place after the invasion of Poland in 1939. We all know the land mass, population was much smaller, but just like China of today, Germany had the second largest economy GDP in the world prior to WWI.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As others have mentioned, simultaneous interpretation, which is much different than translating a written text, is not as exact as sitting down with a passage and translating it. It's listening and translating all at once, made additionally difficult by the fact that in Japanese the verb comes at the end of the sentence, and in English near the start, and therefore the entire Japanese sentence needs to be listened to before translation of that sentence can be made into English, while the speaker has already moved on to their next sentence.

This is why speaking English is so important. Abe could have said what he wanted in English, instead of hoping someone else would translate it exactly as he meant it.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This is all becoming so hilariously predictable.

10 ( +9 / -0 )

Once again, loquacious Abe just couldn’t control his big-mouth; his bellicosity and ignorance became the fixture that exposes Japan’s diplomatic weakness.

For people who are not aware: based on the original arrangement format in Davos, Switzerland, the Q & A session between Abe and 30 senior representatives of major media organizations on Jan. 22 was supposed to keep private. Nevertheless, at the end of the session, one of reporter asked big-mouth Abe if the contents of the gathering could be published. Without thinking, Self-serving Abe said “Fine.”

For Japanese politicians, to get away with what they said was wrong, they’d leverage a few of handy tactics/toolsets in terms of dodging the responsibility: first, blaming English translation. For instance, last year, Toru Hashimoto blamed English translation for his offensive comments on Japan’s war-time sex slavery. Secondly, apologize just for the sake of apology; last but not least, retract what was said as if nothing had happened.

Have anyone wonder why Abe is unable to develop any rapport with major leaders in the world ? Well, can anyone trust his big mouth?

1 ( +6 / -5 )

@Ossan America

Thanks for the full remarks. I would translate as follows, were it a document document.

"It is crucial to ensure that unintended [unexpected? accidental?; confirm with client] military clashes do not occur. 100 years have passed since World War One. War occurred between the UK and Germany even though they had a high degree of economic interdependence and were [each other's; confirm with client] largest trading partner. I asked [the Chinese side; confirm with client] to keep communication channels open to prevent such flashpoints from occurring".

(the confirm with client is tongue in cheek before anyone responds to criticize my indecisiveness as a translator!)

I cannot for the life of my understand why the interpreter is being accused of altering the tone of these remarks by adding "in a similar situation". Abe is clearly saying that, just like Germany and the UK, China and Japan have close economic ties. In the former case war occurred. In the later case, he wants to make sure it doesn't. We may or may not take his desire to avoid war at face value, but those are his remarks. The "intervention" of the interpreter is almost irrelevant here, even more irrelevant than I thought it was when I started commenting on this thread.

I think Abe's beef is with the press coverage. But, like a true right-winger, he went for the weak target (assuming the Foreign Ministry lambastations are on his orders).

10 ( +14 / -4 )

I kind of feel for him. I was still not very good at Japanese at a party and there was a Japanese woman who had lived in Canada who tried to translate everything I said and was was said to me. I asked a question about one of the dishes and she translated "How much is this dinner costing me?" (which I understood what she said to them in Japanese). Nonetheless I was very embarrassed because they were treating me and I didn't ask such a stupid question in the first place but after she said it, the thought was in their mind and it is difficult or impossible to retract such a statement. Be wary of translators,,,

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I agree with other commentators who suggest that the real controversy relates to Abe using an analogy of pre-war England & Germany as an example of how things can "get out of hand".

As I understand his comment was a direct response to a question about Japan & Chinas increasing tension, so referring to a pre-WW1 state, in itself is inflammatory and invites obvious comparisons with the current situation.

If not, simply then, why mention it ???

An attempt to ameliorate the situation by later saying to the effect "I want world peace" is weak.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Not lost in translation...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

For Japanese politicians, to get away with what they said was wrong, they’d leverage a few of handy tactics/toolsets in terms of dodging the responsibility: first, blaming English translation. For instance, last year, Toru Hashimoto blamed English translation for his offensive comments on Japan’s war-time sex slavery. Secondly, apologize just for the sake of apology; last but not least, retract what was said as if nothing had happened.

Rarely do Japanese politicians stick to what they say. They say they apologize, but then soon after they say "we did nothing wrong, but we apologized anyway". They say one thing out of their mouths, then not too later, say completely something else again out of the other side of their mouths to contradict their first statement. And if it all goes south and they get flack, they just blame it on the media who "reported it wrong", or in this case, blame it on the translators. So predictable.

2 ( +11 / -9 )

chucky3176Feb. 04, 2014 - 09:54AM JST Rarely do Japanese politicians stick to what they say.

Any politicians from any G20 country stick to what they say? Let me know which country. Don't you think all politicians are the same? And you think only Japanese?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

So it only took... how long? for Abe to use the 'misinterpretation' excuse? If it were not just a cop-out over the blowback from the comment, he should have said something about it a LOT sooner.

What's amusing is seeing that some of the posters on here defending Abe on this thread are the same people who defended 'Abe's' "similarities" remark last week.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

jpn-guy - no, a botched translation, with what the translator thinks "it sound good" has no excuse. Everybody focused on the "similar situation" pair of words, and that was not spoken in the original Japanese...

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Any politicians from any G20 country stick to what they say? Let me know which country. Don't you think all politicians are the same? And you think only Japanese?

True to a certain extent, but nobody comes close to Japanese politicians in this regard when it comes to making excuses. This Abe thing is so predictable as predicting that it will rain soon.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

I thought he spoke with his So, Calif. Englsih, He honed his English in Long Beach when he was young. Unlike other Japanese students in USA who majored somehing, he only concentrated to learn English.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Isn't this just more of the same familiar strategy that Japanese officials are known for lately -- make an inflammatory/shameful/insulting remark, then a couple of days later apologize for saying something that could be 'misinterpreted'? Mr. Abe, just take the flak like a man and stop trying to weasel out -- that only makes it worse.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

chucky3176 Feb. 04, 2014 - 10:10AM JST but nobody comes close to Japanese politicians in this regard when it comes to making excuses.

So what your saying is that Philippines, Vietnam, and Russians have alot more honest politicians than Japan.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

"JoeBigsJAN. 24, 2014 - 01:05PM JST Very astute of Prime Minister Abe to see the problem, too bad Communist here can't see past their hatred of Japan and freedom to see it also."

"Do some research and you will be shocked that Japan and Communist China are very strong trade partners. But at the same time they are in the midst of a row. Now, look back to 1914 and you will see the same points with Germany and Great Britain."

"It doesn't make much sense to you, maybe that's why he is Prime Minister and you're not."

"If you don't see Abe's point than you are blinded completely"

So, now, are people like JoeBiggs who defended the comparison now going to defend Abe saying he never made it? Just goes to prove that such people will blindly defend the right-wing regardless of any back-tracking and/or without any justification.

And again, what took Abe so long to say he was misinterpreted? SURELY he knew before now, and if he did not it just shows he is not informed and incapable of leading.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

So what your saying is that Philippines, Vietnam, and Russians have alot more honest politicians than Japan.

Did I say anything about corruption or dishonesty? I said Japanese politicians say one thing, then say something different next day, then blame others for their bad predicament. In other words, they rarely stand by their own words.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

Reckless

take it easy don't blame some one trying to help that clearly was hired to INTERPRET(not translate, big difference!) but was just at a gathering, especially when YOU noticed it haha!

As for abe in this case its crystal clear HE is 10,000% to blame, to even have brought the little history bit was a HUGE error on his part & he needs to own up, to blame the interpreter was lame! Thx to Jpn-guy for nailing it wrt simultaneous interpretation, its impossible to translate on the fly.

abe, once again YOU stepped in it, now deal with it!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"China is Japan's largest trading partner. Surely then the translator is surely well within her rights to add "similar situation" for clarity."

absolutely not. you translate what it is said and nothing more. if people do not understand, or want more clarity - they will ask.

adding little extras you think it may need results in situations like this. and clearly abe has no trouble ruffling feathers on his own.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Why bring up Britain and Germany if he's not making a comparison? I understand a translator needs to be careful, but it's hard to blame him for thinking that's what Abe meant. Japanese can be a pretty vague language with speakers often leaving the main point of a statement simply implied. It seems to me Abe is backtracking now that the world is seeing that he's instigating as much as China is blustering.

@ toshiko, There's nothing SoCal about his English. Not to say he's terrible, but I've had plenty of Japanese friends in college who spoke more naturally than him.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

So, he did make a comparison about WW1, but it was just the translation put it into a different context? If this is so, why has it taken a fortnight to come out? Misinterpretation or not, any kind of reference to past wars is an inflammatory statement and this goon should know better. Mr. Charisma strikes again!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Why do not we look at how the Western media reported what Abe said. http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/politics/abe-sees-world-war-i-echoes-in-japan-china-tensions

Although the rivals then had strong trade ties, that did not prevent the outbreak of war in 1914, Abe said, adding that China's steady increase in military spending was a major source of instability in the region, the reports said.

Thanks to the release by the Japanese government, we now know the point Abe made, which was not reported by the Western media.

"We must ensure this will not happen."

It is wrong to blame the translator. The blame is on the Western media.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

manikhalf

You need to check on the difference between interpreting & translating, there are NOT the same thing, just sayin

2 ( +4 / -2 )

interpreter is NOT a machine. Abe should have communicated with his interpreter much more to make sure he knew what Abe wanted to say. Don't blame on the interpreter, it's Abe-san's fault for not making sure what the interpreter understood from his words. Interpreters listen and translate, but they don't always understand the intention of words - what the speaker intends to imply, ALL THOSE needs to be communicated beforehand. Again, interpreter is not a machine.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

DisillusionedFeb. 04, 2014 - 11:06AM JST

any kind of reference to past wars is an inflammatory statement and this goon should know better.

A lot of people including Koreans, Chinese, Jewish people, would disagree with you.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Don't blame on the interpreter, it's Abe-san's fault for not making sure what the interpreter understood from his words.

? I thought the very idea of having an interpreter was because they understood and could interprete language.

interpreter is not a machine.

No, but they should be a qualified and skilled professional.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I thought the very idea of having an interpreter was because they understood and could interprete language

Yes you are correct, however, communication is VERY important to make sure the interpreter understands his words the way he wants to be understood.

Anyone who has worked as an official interpreter probably knows what I mean.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Anyone who has worked as an official interpreter probably knows what I mean.

I doubt it if you are suggesting that the prime minister is expected to sit down and review each speech word for word with every interpreter that interpretes for him or her. That is just not the case. Most interpreters in these situations do not actually meet with the person for whom they are interpreting until the day they are doing it. Thus the problem with the interpreter at Mandela's ceremony.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

You don't have to be a professional translator/interpreter to know that this isn't an absolut science. I believe the government's beef here really is with the press, not treating abe as the good guy he wants to be perceived as. It is incredibly petty to pin this to what might be or not be a mistake by a translator and I think it speaks volumes of the attitude of the J-gov in general and abe in particular. I suspect that this is a Japanese translating firm, as the government would not have the audacity (or balls) to try to boss around a foreign company like this.

In any case, embarrassing move by the government.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I doubt it if you are suggesting that the prime minister is expected to sit down and review each speech word for word with every interpreter that interpretes for him or her.

Actually, speeches should always be provided in advance to the interpreters. And the person being interpreted should always discuss their overall thoughts and points with the interpreter ahead of time, to ensure that situations exactly like this one with Abe don't happen.

I've never been a professional interpreter, but it was one of my regular duties at my last job, and the people who sat down and discussed with me ahead of time ensured that we were on the same page.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I've never been a professional interpreter, but it was one of my regular duties at my last job, and the people who sat down and discussed with me ahead of time ensured that we were on the same page.

This is not usually the case with political interpreting. I am not aware of whether this was actual simultaneous interpretation, but if it was, there would have been no chance at checking the words. That is the reason simultaneous interpreters are used. I am not aware of any political leader that sits down and confirms the meaning of their speech with the interpreter beforehand. Perhaps you could relate some examples?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If there was confusion, where did it start? I don't think it started with the translator. The translator fairly added a bit for clarity and it looks to me like they did a perfect job of it.

But here is what Japan Today said last week:

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe compared current tensions between Japan and China to rivalry between Britain and Germany on the eve of World War I, ...

Now there is something to take issue with. Abe was not comparing the tensions. The tensions are different. He was comparing the fact of strong economic ties and saying they did not prevent a war.

What I quoted continues:

but his top spokesman on Thursday denied the Japanese leader meant war between Asia’s two big powers was possible.

Whoever is doing the obfuscating here, its clearly not the translators blamed by the ministry. Of course he meant war was possible. He did not say he wished for it. He said it was possible.

But honestly, I think he does wish for it.

Anyway, it was not a translator that decided to cherry pick that quote. We all know who did that, don't we?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

There's nothing to see here folks.

Move along please.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

sfjp330 Feb. 04, 2014 - 09:31AM JST

You have the time period wrong. Subject is about prior to First World War (1914-1918). How many Jews were killed by Germans prior to WWI? The mass killing of the Jews took place after the invasion of Poland in 1939. We all know the land mass, population was much smaller, but just like China of today, Germany had the second largest economy GDP in the world prior to WWI

sfjp330

During the Pre WWI, there was no word of trillions existed. PRC is sitting on more than 1 trillions of foreign reserve now. PRE WWI Germany was more desperate and insecure about the market and resources. PRC individual income per capita and purchasing power are low. However their cost of living are lower too. Germany has no natural resources and raw materials . PRC control the 90% of rare earth in world market. PRC supply the 75% of steel output.

If we concern the inflation and share of world wide market, Germany is still smaller than today PRC. The point is not only PRC has been second largest economy of the world as inerm of GDP. Japan has been second largest economy too. I do not buy the idea of all of the second largest economies will found the Nazi pary and agressive like Germany.

UK and Germany are directly competing for the exports back then . Their exports were overlapped. How many of PRC and Japan exports have been overlapped? ROK and Japan are competing for domination of consumer electronics and car exports. Do they need to fight like UK and Germany? If PRC is similar with Germany back then, PRC needed the nationalist leader like Bismarck.

PRC lacks the technical prowess unlike Germany. For becoming the aggressor, that nation needed more successful innovation and scientific development. Germany is the birth place of Professor Eistein. PRC has no genius like Germany. Current US is more identical with Pre WWI Germany which is awashed with Genius of science and right wing nationalists.

http://alphahistory.com/worldwar1/germany/

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

To those that still do not understand, this seems to be a situation in which a simultaneous interpreter was used. Abe was asked a question in a meeting and responded. There is no scripting for this and in general a politician would not meet with an interpreter beforehand to discuss possible content. There are many reasons why this would not be practical. Some of you are relating your personal interpreting experiences, but they are vastly different than the job this interpreter had.

The translator fairly added a bit for clarity

Technically, an interpreter is not supposed to add anything or take anything away. They are supposed to interprete everything said, as it is said and meant to be understood. That is why it is such a difficult job. If it was not, anyone who spoke two languages would be able to do it and this is not the case.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Ah, so whenever a Japanese politician makes a remark that upsets a lot of people it's the fault of the translator?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

manikhalf: "absolutely not. you translate what it is said and nothing more."

GW and others are right -- there's a huge difference between translation and interpretation, especially when you claim things 'must' be literally translated and nothing more. Imagine if you literally translated idioms. Instead of saying "Like father, like son" (or like parent like child, if you want to be more PC, an interpreter was forced to say, "A frog's child is a frog", and imagine literally translating all use of passive voice in Japanese. Even a simple statement like, "Yatte moratta arigatou" would be something like, "Do received thank you".

This is Abe's fault, and the fact he took this long to address it is proof that he did not care about how it was interpreted until it got to the level of attention it got and is still getting. As I said, if he did not notice about it until now, and so delayed the blame, then that only proves he does not pay attention to the issues and is not fit to lead. Which is it?

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

A mirror cannot see the image it reflects.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

slumdog-

I doubt it if you are suggesting that the prime minister is expected to sit down and review each speech word for word with every interpreter that interpretes for him or her

interpreter DOES need to know in advance what he intends to speak about and his intention of saying what he says, ESPECIALLY in political environment, this is VERY important.

AND it is VERY important that the interpreter sits down with Abe-san to go over to clarify whatever needs to be said. It is VERY important to communicate with your interpreter BEFOREHAND - look what happens when he tries to save a little bit of time to sit down with his interpreter.

In casual situations, interpreter should be able to translate conversations but when it comes to something THIS important, spending time with your interpreter to communicate does a lot of miracle conveying messages correctly.. I've done it myself (Not english, though.. I'm a Japanese-French interpreter and I do a lot of interpretations in official situations).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The discussion on this thread is extremely interesting, but I still think those who wish to blame the interpreter as missing the wider dynamics in play here .

The crux of the matter is this: Why did Abe introduce the UK-Germany example and what is he trying to say? Re-reading his remarks, his point seems to be "strong economic ties between two nations are not, in and of themselves, sufficient to avoid military conflict. Therefore, as a responsible leader, I won't just sit back and say 'we have strong economic links, war will never happen'. Rather, I want to take proactive steps to prevent further conflict including the opening of communication channels."

I agree that this, if taken at face value, is a non-inflammatory and wholly appropriate statement, even if the choice of example is unwise.

Now Abe is not a great orator. Perhaps he could not express himself well, but I feel the above is a fair expression of his intention. Now let's say he had said the above, and the interpreter had translated it word for word, not a penny more and not a penny less.

The press would still have run with "Abe says economic ties not enough to avoid war" and created a song and dance about it.

This hypothetical example clarifies that whether the interpreter utters the two words "same situation" or not, the result is identical.

The fallout from this is the result of how the Japanese leader is perceived. Rather than his interpreters choice of words, this has more to do with his own actions, (such as praying to the souls of the individuals who planned and executed the invasion of Asia) affecting the tone of subsequent media coverage.

The Foreign Ministry needs to recognize that Japan's international public relations and media strategy is not very successful and requires urgent attention. (Remember Voldemort?)

Ignoring Abe's history and the ministry's own lackluster communications strategy in order to blame the interpreter is simply cowardly. I hope the ministry's yellow belly does not derail this interpreter's career.

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fishyFeb. 04, 2014 - 01:01PM JST

The words came out during Q and A session. It is rather hard to prepare a closed door talk with an interpreter for impromptu questions.

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this is what I mean by COMMUNICATION. preferrably, Abe-san uses the same interpreter in official occasions, NOT the ones from commercial companies like the government did this time... Interpreter should communicate to understand what Abe-san's mindset is and think of possible questions/answers - sitting down to talk talk with interpreter to make sure the interpreter knows Abe-san's thinking so that he can convey Abe'san's messages correctly. I am not even talking abour scripts or translating each word, but to understand Abe-san is very important when interpreting his remarks - that's what I mean by communication..

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Strangerland, as posters above have noted, this was not a speech. It was an unscripted reply to a question.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Instead of saying "Like father, like son" (or like parent like child, if you want to be more PC, an interpreter was forced to say, "A frog's child is a frog",

Smith,

Haha I was just thinking to myself about the kaeru no ko wa kaeru proverb but you beat me to it, nice one!

Slum,

Assuming abe was using his own interpreter (hired by Japan) then the someone in the govt should have I would assume would have ABSOLUTELY briefed the interpreter on how to go about his/her task. If they left the interpreter entirely to his/her own devices then that is simple ANOTHER screw up on top of abe's screw up.

Again the interpreter(people please STOP saying translator LOL!) did NOTHING wrong!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

GW

Assuming abe was using his own interpreter (hired by Japan) then the someone in the govt should have I would assume would have ABSOLUTELY briefed the interpreter on how to go about his/her task

according to Japanese news, the J-government hired the interpreter through a commericial company. this particular interpreter has never worked with the prime minister.

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Oh come on, this is China who we're talking about. Even if the Japanese government send them a bouquet of flowers, they will accuse the Japanese government of trying to poison them with flowers. So no, a simple "similar situation" was the reason for so much commotion.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

interpreter DOES need to know in advance what he intends to speak about and his intention of saying what he says, ESPECIALLY in political environment, this is VERY important.

This was a meeting. A question was asked and answered. The interpretation was done simultaneously. How may I ask are you expecting the interpreter to be told in advance what will be said? This makes no sense and shows a lack of awareness of the meaning of simultaneous interpretation.

Assuming abe was using his own interpreter (hired by Japan) then the someone in the govt should have I would assume would have ABSOLUTELY briefed the interpreter on how to go about his/her task. If they left the interpreter entirely to his/her own devices then that is simple ANOTHER screw up on top of abe's screw up.

I happen to have experience in this area and I can tell you that when you are doing simultaneous interpreting in almost any situation, but especially in the political arena, you are not told what to expect beyond the general subject matter (if that). The discussion flows naturally, questions are asked and answered and the interpreter interpretes.

this particular interpreter has never worked with the prime minister.

Now, this could be indicative of a problem. How much experience the person has, etc.

However, expecting people to brief interpreters about what the content of meetings and discussions will be is not only unrealistic, it is impossible unless you have a time machine. That is why this is considered a highly skilled vocation and is rewarded with extremely good pay.

this was not a speech. It was an unscripted reply to a question.

Exactly. Even in the case of speeches, especially political ones, it is rare that those outside the inner circle have a chance to view the contents of the speech. The interpreter is not in that inner circle.

I am not talking about the owner of Taro's Potato Shop asking you to come down and 'interprete' his spring at the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. This is politics and the rules are different. There are times when politicians are asked to make those kinds of speeches and yes they might have someone come and 'interprete', but actually in those cases the 'interpreter' is not interpreting. They are reading from a preprepared script written in the target language. That is reading a translated script. That is not interpreting.

Here, the situation was unscripted and the conversation was a natural flow that was being interpreted. This is how it is done in the UN as well.

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Ok SlumD so the interpreter did their job as I said, the only mistakes were made by abe & the govt & they were:

Very bad history tidbit Hiring an interpreter they don't normally use

End of story

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In fact Davo is the economic forum. It is not the history class. Abe has not only wasted other people time with his hateful propaganda. He has also offended professionalism of simultaneous interpreter. As an incompetent, flip flopping and undiplomatic PM, he should apologize to that interpreter for the sake of integrity and reputation.

If he did not mention anything about UK and Germany analogy, there will be no mess like now. Abe is just a trouble maker.

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Nathaw and GW: exactly! Abe hired the interpreter. Abe brought up the historical comparisons during an economic summit. Abe waited until now to bother to bring it up. ALL Abe's fault.

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Same-O, Sameo. But in any case consistent with the Japanese characteristic of simply refusing to face facts and reality. When you have a magician and a clown for a prime minister what do you expect. Yes, much laughter at the stupidity of the things uttered coupled with clownish behaviour. Of course, all assistants are to be blamed. The conjuror always gets away scot-free. After all magic is not real. It is used to fool people but its effects are momentary. After the laughter comes the realization of being hoodwinked and cheated. His house of cards are falling fast. Get him out before he does even more damage. Never has Japan been put to so much shame than by this one person who insists in speaking haltering English and unable to understand what he was saying or its implications. Encore, Shinzo Abe! The best court jester, and clown of the world .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

SlumD so the interpreter did their job as I said

If the interpreter did not in fact interprete what Abe said correctly, then the interpreter did not do their job well.

If the meaning were changed to what Abe actually said, would people be as upset with the comment? If the answer is no, then the interpreter made an error that caused a misunderstanding.

Abe hired the interpreter.

No, he did not. Do you think prime ministers hire their own interpreters?

ALL Abe's fault.

That is ridiculous. If you make a comment and I interprete in a way that is not what you meant to say, it is my fault if you are misunderstood. If you are misunderstood and criticized for your comment and told you should not have said it and you think they are talking about what you meant as opposed to the way it was interpreted, the misunderstanding could go on for a bit.

At least Abe said that is not what he meant to say. That is the important thing.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Might have to start using a counter proofing system before accepting final product.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Slum dog: who's in charge of the government? Who meets with the interpreter before a meeting? Abe's fault, any way you slice it.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

This is not usually the case with political interpreting. I am not aware of whether this was actual simultaneous interpretation, but if it was, there would have been no chance at checking the words.

To review what I said:

the person being interpreted should always discuss their overall thoughts and points with the interpreter ahead of time

This means giving the overall idea of what they are thinking, what their goals are in their speaking points, and what the points they are trying to get across are. Of course the words cannot be checked for things on the fly, which is why as much as possible should be clarified ahead of time.

That is the reason simultaneous interpreters are used. I am not aware of any political leader that sits down and confirms the meaning of their speech with the interpreter beforehand. Perhaps you could relate some examples?

I have no idea of political leaders do it or not. But with business people, it was about 30/70 for me - 30% gave me their presentations if they were doing one, and/or discussed the points I mentioned above. 70% did nothing. I was always more accurate with the 30%, because I had advance warning of what would be spoken of. This is why I said:

Actually, speeches should always be provided in advance to the interpreters. And the person being interpreted should always discuss their overall thoughts and points with the interpreter ahead of time, to ensure that situations exactly like this one with Abe don't happen.

Strangerland, as posters above have noted, this was not a speech. It was an unscripted reply to a question.

I know. See my above comments.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I wonder who wrote the speech in Japanese. I doubt that Abe wrote that himself.

0 ( +1 / -2 )

Strangerland,

I have no idea of political leaders do it or not.

Well, that is what is pertinent here, don't you think?

I was always more accurate with the 30%, because I had advance warning of what would be spoken of.

You mentioned you are not a professional interpreter. Is anyone here a professional interpreter? If not, how is it so many seem to know the proper way it is done in these cases? How is it so many seem to know who hires and interviews them? Hint: It is not the prime minister of a country.

The interpreter made an error. It is not a big deal, but the mistake is on the interpreter not the person being interpreted.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@slumdog "If the meaning were changed to what Abe actually said, would people be as upset with the comment? If the answer is no, then the interpreter made an error that caused a misunderstanding."

Agreed. But here, the answer is unequivocally, yes, the reaction would have been the same, since the interpreter cannot be accused of altering the sense of Mr. Abe's remarks.

To recap, Mr. Abe is asked if Japan might go to war with China (which is Japan's largest trading partner). He responds that the UK and Germany went to war even though they were [each other's] largest trading partners. Note he is the first person in the room to bring Japan and Germany into the equation.

He cannot simply say afterwards "I am not drawing a comparison". That offends logic and common sense.

The words "added" by the interpreter were "similar situation". Abe is talking about the situations because they are similar. Therefore the interpretation is justified and this is not an interpreting error.

@slumdog again "If you make a comment and I interpret in a way that is not what you meant to say, it is my fault if you are misunderstood".

Are you saying Mr. Abe does not think the two similar situations are similar? Is that what you mean by misinterpreted? We are going round in circles and back to the most pertinent question: so why did he bring up and example which he believes is dissimilar? It makes no sense.

Granted, the PM also said he wants to make sure conflict does not happen. But the failure to focus on this in the media is well, exactly that, a media matter.

If the Ministry want to hang the interpreter out to dry here, I think they risk discouraging talented people from working for the Prime Minister. It does not behoove and advanced nation to have a leader who will not take responsibility for his own remarks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is anyone here a professional interpreter? If not, how is it so many seem to know the proper way it is done in these cases? How is it so many seem to know who hires and interviews them? Hint: It is not the prime minister of a country.

@Slumdog - everyone on JT is an expert on everything... to be honest my Japanese is so poor I couldn't even begin to know the right way to translate it. However, I do think that if one is translating something at a very high level, then you basically translate exactly what the speaker is saying. No embellishments, no clever phrasing... and certainly no reference to the Sino-Japanese war, which was never mentioned in the remarks. Of course there are the usual crowd who will think that the Japanese transcript has been tampered with, but that's par for the course, as they say.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

everyone on JT is an expert on everything

I am becoming a fast student at this :)

However, I do think that if one is translating something at a very high level, then you basically translate exactly what the speaker is saying. No embellishments, no clever phrasing... and certainly no reference to the Sino-Japanese war, which was never mentioned in the remarks.

Exactly. Thank you for your comments.

Mr. Abe is asked if Japan might go to war with China (which is Japan's largest trading partner). He responds that the UK and Germany went to war even though they were [each other's] largest trading partners. Note he is the first person in the room to bring Japan and Germany into the equation.

He was suggesting things went bad between the UK and Germany because of bad communication and he wants to make sure there is an open channel between China and Japan to avoid any trouble. I don't see anything wrong with that. He certainly was not suggesting there was going to be a war like the one between UK and Germany.

so why did he bring up and example which he believes is dissimilar? It makes no sense.

I am not Abe, but I read it that he does not believe that the two situations are similar at the moment, but that to avoid them becoming similar, there should be an open channel of communication.

Granted, the PM also said he wants to make sure conflict does not happen.

Not 'also'. That was the point of his answer.

It does not behoove and advanced nation to have a leader who will not take responsibility for his own remarks.

If the interpreted remarks are not what the leader said, it certainly does behoove him to say so. Abe has said so.

An interpreter that is interpreting for a prime minister should not make such errors. The responsibility is clearly with the interpreter.

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As a world leader, this little mistake could have been avoided if the leader of this nation, Japan's representative to the world, Abe, learned how to speak English, the most widely accepted global language.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Strangerland-

This means giving the overall idea of what they are thinking, what their goals are in their speaking points, and what the points they are trying to get across are. Of course the words cannot be checked for things on the fly, which is why as much as possible should be clarified ahead of time.

THANK YOU! exactly my thoughts as well.

slumdog-

Is anyone here a professional interpreter?

as i said in one of my posts, i am. (not english-japanese, though).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry - but can't abide by some comments that still justify Abe's reference to the Eng. / Germany pre ww1 situation.

In light of all the controversy over the last year esp re China, a leader more adept in diplomacy and common sense would have not alluded to something which easily can add fuel to a smouldering fire.

When watching the interview, I got the impression Abe was in casual mode and speaking his true mind ( on a roll so as to speak) and not realizing the implications of his utterances. Bit like Mr NHK the other day.

Bottom line is to take responsibility - Own your words. The weasle's way out is to blame others. Nothing to do with "similar situation". Referencing ww1 foes on a sensitive topic in an internationally broadcasted interview is just plain arrogant or naive or dumb.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

and forgot to mention... in official situations, we normally have a second interpreter to listen to the first interpreter to make sure that the interpretation is correct. i guess japanese government doesn't do that or didn't do that this time.

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GW is right. When I had to translate Japanese diaglogs back in Japan after I graduated a woman;s college, I had to translate. Using Japanese English Dictionary. I am in USA and I think in Japanese and speech comes as American English. My broken English just like my comments on JT board. Sometime I have to speak in English like doctors' office, and media people. One of my daughters who accompany me does not know Japanese but know my broken English since she was born, She tell people who have to communicate with me "My mother have heavy Japanese accents, So, I will interpret." Then I tell what I want to tell in my unique English (we had to study English by books in my time after WW II) and she interpret to people.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am a Japanese. Translation is not right. The right Japanese meaning is written in easy English.

Don't cause the unexpected armed clash. Although Britain and Germany were very on intimate terms with each other, war occurred. If 1 and 2 are read continuously, they have a new meaning. He said that he always must not be inattentive to an armed clash or the risk of war. I think that hot line should be prepared in order to prevent an unexpected trouble. Expression lighter than an armed clash. The trouble of an early stage is also meant as performing risk management.
1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, that is what is pertinent here, don't you think?

Well, it would add more context. But my point is that if they are not discussing with the interpreter ahead of time, they should be, as it will go better. Not they should be as in 'that's the rules' or 'that's the standard'. Rather they should be as in 'they won't have to deal as many issues where the interpreter gets it slightly wrong, causing an international uproar, requiring a clarification by the person/government being interpreted because the interpreter didn't receive any guidance ahead of time'.

I was always more accurate with the 30%, because I had advance warning of what would be spoken of.

You mentioned you are not a professional interpreter. Is anyone here a professional interpreter?

I'm not a professional interpreter now, nor have I ever been. That said, I have a significant amount of experience in it. And the fact that the professional interpreter who is in this thread, Fishy, is agreeing with me, seems to support the fact that I have an idea of what I'm talking about.

The interpreter made an error. It is not a big deal, but the mistake is on the interpreter not the person being interpreted.

Whether that's true or not, that doesn't change the fact that a mistake was made, and it caused a huge uproar. If the interpreter wasn't consulted with ahead of time, then the fact that it was their mistake takes a backseat to the fact that the mistake made could theoretically have been prevented, thereby preventing the uproar that followed.

But even more than that, if Abe had spoken for himself in English it wouldn't matter.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My guess is that his office used JE and EJ translating wordprocessor. On the top you can select EJ or JE after typing text or using equipped microphone collected speech. You can select print option so that people use equipped microphone to talk and speech come out on one of screen, Bugging machines application.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

jpn_guyFeb. 04, 2014 - 09:45AM JST @Ossan America Thanks for the full remarks. I would translate as follows, were it a document document. "It is crucial to ensure that unintended [unexpected? accidental?; confirm with client] military clashes do not occur. 100 >years have passed since World War One. War occurred between the UK and Germany even though they had a high >degree of economic interdependence and were [each other's; confirm with client] largest trading partner. I asked [the >Chinese side; confirm with client] to keep communication channels open to prevent such flashpoints from occurring".

While I have a couple of objections, such as "ensure" not appearing in the original text, I do accept that interpretation has some leeway. For example , your choice of "crucial" for my "imperative" does not change the meaning of the original. That being as it may, I still fail to see the necessity for anyone to add "in a similar situation" to this statement. For example, if a British, German or other major European head of state had made this exact same statement, would there be a need to add "in a similar situation"? I tend to think not. Let us agree to disagree.

Hence, I have to disagree with your conclusion. I do feel that the person who added "in a similar situation" overstepped their authority as an interpreter/translator. Put simply, if anyone I hired did that to any contract related correspondence or text in my line of work, they'd be canned in a flash.

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Ossan wote Hence, I have to disagree with your conclusion. I do feel that the person who added "in a similar situation" overstepped their authority as an interpreter/translator. Put simply, if anyone I hired did that to any contract related correspondence or text in my line of work, they'd be canned in a flash.

I agree with you, interpreter/translator's job is interpret/translate, not addig or changing contents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

chucky3176FEB. 04, 2014 - 10:36AM JST So what your saying is that Philippines, Vietnam, and Russians have alot more honest politicians than Japan.

Did I say anything about corruption or dishonesty? I said Japanese politicians say one thing, then say something different next day, then blame others for their bad predicament. In other words, they rarely stand by their own words.

Sounds like you are simply describing all politicians. Well, except those in Korea, because they always stand by their word and are 100% honest.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sounds like you are simply describing all politicians. Well, except those in Korea, because they always stand by their word and are 100% honest.

They have their own faults. But at least they don't apologize for comfort women, like Japan did, when PM's Kono and Murayama did in the 1990's, but now the Japanese politicians are saying the comfort women were all a hoax by Korea. If Japan wants to claim it's an hoax, then at least Japan should tear up the written apologies and say it was all a mistake. Otherwise, I'll just keep pointing to the fact that Japanese politicians do have a reputation for not sticking to their original words. Are they just liars, or cowards who can't stand up for what they really believe? You decide.

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chucky: Abe, etc are not saying cpmfort women talks are hoax. They say there were existence of Ian-fu and trying to fool people pretending ian-fus were necessity.

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Well that kind of interpreter can start world war III.

How come private interpretation firm has employed poor languages interpreter for Japanese Prime Minister?

PM office should be canceled that private interpreting firm contract.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Translator probably translated what Abe said. Blaming someone else for his big mouth is easier, I's bet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

U gotta to be kidding me!! Nothing wrong with the interpretation, Abe is a just a liar!!

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JanesBlonde Feb. 05, 2014 - 01:33AM JST I said Japanese politicians say one thing, then say something different next day, then blame others for their bad predicament. In other words, they rarely stand by their own words.

The other side of this issue is how much it has become politicized in places like China and Korea, as well as in Japan. But Abe isn’t alone playing the politics of personal gain with this issue. China and Korea do the same thing, redirecting anger and dissatisfaction with the countries’ politicians and leadership to Japan. I suspect that China and Korea will never be satisfied with any apology, and they are happy to keep rejecting apologies and pressing for new apologies because they can turn this position into a popular one among the people in their countries. While recognizing Japan’s guilt in this matter, we also need to recognize the political posturing on the parts of China, Korea, and others who want to keep this issue fresh and unresolved for the purpose of personal political gain.

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Stranger and Fishy,

I understand what you are saying. Yes, for most interpreters, especially part-time ones, meeting with the client beforehand will ensure a more success interpretation. However, in some cases, such as when dealing with a leader of a country, it is not possible to do so. With a professional, and I am talking about someone who should be an expert, there should be no need though. Whomever is called on to do this kind of interpreting should be the cream of the crop. That means they should know they should not change or embellish even one part of what is said.

Now, I do see what are dealing with two different issues here. Maybe even more. Look at the comment right above mine. Some people just want to use the discussion to accuse Abe of lying. So, anyone commenting that the interpreter made an error seems to be defending 'the liar' Abe. However, if the interpreter did in fact add something suggesting the two situations UK and Germany and Japan and China are simular when Abe did not say they were, the interpreter not only erred, but caused misunderstanding.

Perhaps the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take your advice and add another interpreter to the team or have the interpreter meet with the PM beforehand. I agreed. It could not hurt.

However, that does say to me that you agree that the mistake in this case was made by the interpreter. That was my point. This kind of interpreting does not allow for that. As witnessed by this article and the 'tempest' that came before it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let us accept the Japanese government's explanation because it allows both Japan and China to defuse a difficult situation and save face.

0 ( +0 / -1 )

You know, for all the people accepting the government blaming the interpreter for Abe's comparison I still have yet to see one person explain why it took them this long to lay the blame on the guy. SURELY they knew about the blowback because it was IMMEDIATE. Seems like it took them a while to figure out a method of damage control the public may buy.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@slumdog "He certainly was not suggesting there was going to be a war like the one between UK and Germany".

But the addition of "similar situation" by the interpreter does not suggest this either.

Abe is clearly saying "two countries can sometimes go to war despite economic ties".

He then mentions the UK and Germany's ties. There is your "similarity". There is no change to the substantive nature of the remarks. Neither Abe's original, nor the interpreted version, says anything beyond this.

The above is also a response to @Ossan America. The interpreter may have changed the wording, but they have not changed the meaning, and therefore have not overstepped their authority.

What people then infer from the original or the interpreted version (which are semantically identical) depends on the individual. This is a separate factor unrelated to the presence or absence of the phrase "similar situation". It was the media that decided to run with "Abe is taking Japan to war".

You prove the ambiguity inherent in the remarks (both original and rendered) with your own unique take on what Abe actually wanted to say.

"He was suggesting things went bad between the UK and Germany because of bad communication".

Where does he say this? Now you are making your own interpretation. I don't think there is a single implication about communication between the UK and Germany anywhere in his remarks.

The "communication" reference is specifically about the need to prevent clashes between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands as a result of the specific situation there i.e the overlapping ADIZ's and territorial claims. The UK and Germany did not have an analogous potential territorial flashpoint (do correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that is how WWI started).

With or without "similar situation" the media where going to have a field day with this.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I saw several things that were just not right.

The government hired an interpreter through a commercial company. They should have their own interpreter who the prime minister trusts and feels comfortable with, and someone who understands Abe's mind-set.

As some people have mentioned, an interpreter should NEVER ADD remarks because an interpreter is a shadow, should not be "participating" the discussion.

There should have been a meeting (even a quick one in a car) where experts briefed Abe about what are the possible questions that might be asked and they should have prepared for the possible questions, and the interpreter should have attended that meeting (or should have ridden in the car together to take notes).

Interpreters should be professional, not just a person who speaks 2 languages but professional in the particular field. Having said that, the interpreter is NOT Abe, if he wasn't 100% certain what the prime minister meant, instead of going ahead and saying whatever he assumed, he should have taken a moment to ask the prime minister to clarify. So many interpreters feel that they HAVE TO interpret immediately but it is totally fine to ask the speaker questions to clarify in order to interpret accurately.

And as I said in one of my comments, it is often recommended to have a second interpreter (not sitting at the table together but being close to them). Not only the second interpreter makes sure that the main/first interpreter is interpreting correctly but also listens to the interpreter who is working for THE OTHER PERSON - because if the other interpreter is saying something that's not accurate, the conversation could go in a wrong direction or could be understood in a negative way. I have been reminded the importance of having the second interpreter in official situations from time to time.
0 ( +0 / -0 )

fishy,

Those are good suggestions. I am not sure that the two interpreter system would work for meetings of this type though. The flow of the meeting could be quite hampered by the constant checking and re-checking between the main and sub interpreter.

As some people have mentioned, an interpreter should NEVER ADD remarks because an interpreter is a shadow, should not be "participating" the discussion.

Exactly. This is what is said to have happened and can lead to a lot of problems.

But the addition of "similar situation" by the interpreter does not suggest this either.

I think it does. He was not suggesting they were the same. He was giving the example of a relationship that went bad and saying he wanted to avoid his country's relationship from going bad. He was not suggesting that the situations were the same.

If someone says to the signifcant other that their mutual friends broke up because of lack of communication. Then that person says they want to keep the lines of communication open. That is one thing. However, to say that the current situation is similar to the relationship that broke up is a different meaning.

The interpreter should not have added anything. It is what is seen as the comparision that has caused the problem. It was not a comparison, it was an example of what Abe was saying he did not want to do. Those are two different things and are taken in two different ways.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

jpn_guy - agree with your sentiments.

I can't understand why others refuse to acknowledge the more serious mishap in Abe's comments was the referencing of the pre WW1 Germany - UK state of affairs, which escalated into horror.

Avoiding the core utterances and focusing on semantics and inferred or not inferred words is of little importance.

Could some of the apologists for Abe please suggest why he felt it necessary to bring up the subject of WAR as a comparison when asked about the Senkakus?

Why?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

slumdog-

I am not sure that the two interpreter system would work for meetings of this type though. The flow of the meeting could be quite hampered by the constant checking and re-checking between the main and sub interpreter.

no, the second interpreter is just taking notes so that he/she can inform the government of what was not correctly interpreted after the fact - of course, if something went REALLY wrong, he/she could step in to correct but normally, the second interpreter is the note taker.

Exactly. This is what is said to have happened and can lead to a lot of problems

glad we agree on this one :))

and looks like this caused the biggest problem this time - hope the government learned a lesson (and hopefully the interpreter also learned a good lesson)

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

jpn_guyFeb. 05, 2014 - 08:08AM JST The above is also a response to @Ossan America. The interpreter may have changed the wording, but they have not >changed the meaning, and therefore have not overstepped their authority.

I beg to differ. The unauthorized addition is what cast Abe's statement into a light that some interpreted as inflammatory. Without that addition, does the below look inflammatory in any way?

"It is imperative that accidental military conflict(s) do not occur. This year is 100 years since WWI. Despite Britain and Germany having a high level of economic interdependency and being it's (their) biggest trading partner(s), war still occurred. So that unintentional accidents(incidents) do not occur the creation of a channel of communication has been requested."

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Browny: "I can't understand why others refuse to acknowledge the more serious mishap in Abe's comments was the referencing of the pre WW1 Germany - UK state of affairs, which escalated into horror. "

Because then they could not deny anything and defend Abe.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I think criticizing the interpreter is wrong; that addition is almost irrelevant as some have already pointed out. It was the western media that misinterpreted Abe's speech, intentionally or not, so the government should blame the media, not the translator.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Loud mouth before brain to project greatness. Did the act. Pushed by the master and the world's opinion to back off. Blamed the translator to save face. What a joke!

How many times a leader can do this without losing total credibility?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Ossan America - without wishing to appear rude, your translations suggest that you have little idea what it means to interpret simultaneously in a professional environment.

" So that unintentional accidents(incidents) do not occur the creation of a channel of communication has been requested."

I note that to avoid any accusations of "adding" to the Japanese, you avoid putting in any grammatical subjects or objects to show who is asking what of whom. You may think you are"preserving the original" but if an interpreter tried translating an entire event in English like this their listeners would soon be completely confused and they would be looking for other work.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

jpn_guyFeb. 06, 2014 - 08:58AM JST @Ossan America - without wishing to appear rude, your translations suggest that you have little idea what it means to >interpret simultaneously in a professional environment.

" So that unintentional accidents(incidents) do not occur the creation of a channel of communication has been requested."

I note that to avoid any accusations of "adding" to the Japanese, you avoid putting in any grammatical subjects or >objects to show who is asking what of whom. You may think you are"preserving the original" but if an interpreter tried >translating an entire event in English like this their listeners would soon be completely confused and they would be >looking for other work.

Sory jpn_guy but your attempts to justify the addition of unauthorized language are really not arguable.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Abe supporters as yet, have still not given a reason why he brought up a WAR analogy.

I earlier flippantly suggested - arrogant, naive or dumb.

But perhaps someone more learned can enlighten me as to WHY?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

browny1, Abe brought up the war analogy because he is a man of peace and vision, and he wants to avoid war for Japan in the future. He is warning us not to repeat the mistakes of the past. In terms of wisdom, I would rank him up there with Santayana when it comes to this issue.

I also think it's important that we understand the interpreter's political motivation for inserting this unspoken and unimplied statement into the interpretation. Whose payroll is the interpreter on? Hopefully the media can star getting some answers, including getting the interpreter to face the public to explain his or her motivation for making these false statements.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Homeland - Thank you.

Personally though, I have difficulty with those leaders of the world (and others) who preach peace while at the same time help escalate tense situations, increase miltary spending and arms sales and who see national strength and character as synonomous with military might and status. Our place in the world so as to speak.

I'm perfectly happy with Japan's almost stand alone renunciation of war constitution. It demands great character for a persons or a nation to stand tall affirming such, while bearing the pressures and mockery of others. Something Japan should be exporting is it's constitutional peace ethic and be proud of it. The naysayers will cry "weak", as their peace comes from the number of barrels.

If Abe and other leaders were men (as most are men unfortunately) of true peace perhaps we would see a marked change of atmosphere.

As for your esteemed elevation of Abe to the ranks of Santayana - we all know Santayana's most famous words expressing the sentiments of those who neglegct to remember history are apt to repeat it - as an indeed surprising analysis of character esp in light of many of the current administrations officers memory lapses.

But I'll leave that for further assessment

Peace be with you.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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