I realized a long time ago that I didn’t have what it takes to be an interpreter. However, thinking that I still might learn something useful from a meeting aimed at interpreters, I attended the joint JATINT/TAC meeting held in Yoyogi on November 17, 2018. And so I did.

The first speaker was Izumi Suzuki, whose presentation was titled 通訳ビジネスの成功に向けて. Suzuki-san provided a comprehensive rundown of the business aspects of being an interpreter, starting with detailed descriptions of the documents needed to launch a business, advice on formulating fee schedules and payment conditions, interpreting policies, suggested inclusions in contracts and non-disclosure agreements with clients and subcontractors, checklists to ensure  that interpreters are ready for the work they are required to do, and tips on how to handle client relations before and on the day of the work. Some excellent advice was offered, and I should mention that much of it is transferable to those of us working in translation.

Our second speaker was Yukiko Fujii , speaking on the subject 司法・医療を含む広義のコミュニティ通訳の育成と制度整備にむけて.
Fujii-san began with an overview of trends in the market for conference interpreting since the war, then discussed the venues in which community interpreting occur, reviewed major government initiatives affecting the tourism sector and the numbers of foreign workers in Japan, and presented data on the growth in the numbers of foreign residents and tourists in Japan. She then sketched out proposed changes in immigration legislation, gave a compelling overview of the challenges faced by the community interpreting sector, delineated the differences between community and conference interpreting and the perceived market values of each, and concluded with a list of proposals for systems and capacity building in the community interpreting sector.

All in all, an enjoyable afternoon of learning about the business of interpreting and the challenges faced by those in the community interpreting sector, followed as usual by a lively networking session. I still don’t think I’ll ever have the chops to become an interpreter, but if I did, I’d be much better prepared for it after this joint JATINT/TAC meeting.

Thanks to Akiko Sato and her JATINT team, and Erica Kajiwara and Asako Shiokawa from the Tokyo Activities Committee for organizing this event.

Tony Atkinson

President, JAT