The following are the minutes recorded for the JAT Board Face-to-Face Meeting, which took place on November 9, 2007, from 10:45am to 6:30pm, on the 27th floor of the Horizon Mare building in Ariake, Tokyo.
The meeting was chaired by director and president Manako Ihaya. In attendance were directors Mike Sekine, Jed Schmidt, Phil Robertson, Nora Stevens Heath, Karen Sandness, and Ko Iwata, as well as auditors Wolfgang Bechstein and Yusaku Yai. The minutes were recorded by Jed Schmidt.
Outside grants sought by IJET organizing committees require board approval before application: ACCEPTED (7 for, 0 against)
JAT will waive registration fees for IJET organizing committee members up to an amount equivalent to four times the registration fee: ACCEPTED (5 for, 2 against)
Payment for non-keynote presenters at IJETs requires board approval: ACCEPTED (6 for, 0 against, 1 abstain)
The 2008 AGM will be held at the monthly JAT meeting in Tokyo in May: ACCEPTED (7 for, 0 against)
IJET-20 will be held in Sydney, Australia on February 14 and 15, 2009: ACCEPTED (7 for, 0 against)
The North Sydney Harbourview Hotel is endorsed by the board as the venue for IJET-20: ACCEPTED (7 for, 0 against)
Japan/overseas members ratio unchanged at 65/35
Number of member is holding steady, if not growing slowly, and can be checked on the members site.
Data is slightly off due to paypal switchover
Membership website needs are mostly incremental/usability-related
Decision to keep our US bank account for now until new treasurer takes over
Funds left over from IJET18 will be sent back
Mizuho bank account will be used for IJET19
Kagi is now closed, all payments now through PayPal
Transition to new website and host is complete
The Board has decided to continue using Basecamp in place of a mailing list for Board communication
Most changes over the next term will be for usability and design
Webmaster will look into:
- finding ways to have Basecamp send own email
- purging old members from database
- keeping static content on front page
Posted on mailing lists and social networking services (mixi, gree)
Questions to raise when next contest is considered:
- What should be the protocol for fixing mistakes? Should entrants be told they should flag?
- Should JAT buy an article from a publication to ensure quality?
- Are the prizes fair? Should we somehow compensate people who can’t attend IJET?
- Should we change compensatation to the larger of transportation or IJET registration fee?
- Is the contest a good PR opportunity (with Japan Times, etc.)?
- Should board members help pre-screen entries to reduce burden on judges?
Japan IJETs growing faster in popularity than overseas IJETs
Time committment and total costs are biggest factors in attendance
Practical and industry-related sessions are most popular
Most desired domestic IJET: Hokkaido
Most desired overseas IJET: Canada / New Zealand / Australia
A good conference, especially given the inexperienced hosts
Keynote speaker decided (Okinawan translator)
15 speakers accepted, 12 slots left
Proposals for Sydney IJET and IJET venue both accepted
The board decided to keep its policy of non-reimbursement for board AGM attendance.
Emily Shibata-Sato will continue her work as NPO liaison
Mike is going to record the TAC zeirishi presentation, kicking off a potential TAC podcast
Mike is going to manage a member publication list
The board agrees to have all site content professionally translated, using funds from the tech budget
Mike proposes to have JAT pay speakers for non-Tokyo, local seminars; the board declines, maintaining its practice of paying for the venue but not for speakers (as a rule).
The board will explore sending a kikakusho to tsuyaku/honyaku journal for a bimonthly article
At the Tokyo JAT meeting on February 24, Yuko Kawamoto spoke about the need for structural reform and innovation to achieve Japanese economic growth. She concluded with a few words on the translation industry, noting that prospects are good for skilled, specialized translators due to advances in technology and globalization. This write-up by Helen Iwata covers the key points of the presentation.
Numerous factors in post-war Japan have made serious structural reform a must. These include a major demographic shift, misdirected investment, and a record high government deficit. Meanwhile, businesses have tended to pay little attention to profitability, and the country’s banks have worked off a huge volume of bad debt accumulated during the bubble years. To sustain the presence and growth of the Japanese economy and society, Japan must establish an economic structure that enables it to optimize resource allocation and fully leverage the potential of its people.
The aging of Japanese society presents a major challenge for the government. By 2025, 46 percent of the population is expected to be over 60 – eligible for a pension – compared with just 18 percent in 1970. At the same time, the birthrate is declining. This situation has resulted in ballooning social security costs, with the current pension system unable to generate sufficient funds to be sustainable, and growing healthcare responsibilities.
Furthermore, the government does not invest sufficiently in the country’s youth, beginning with school-age children. The government’s policy of yutori kyoiku – the “relaxed” education system – has resulted in thinner textbooks and lower academic standards. Ranking among OECD countries, Japanese school children fell from 8th to 14th in reading comprehension and 1st to 6th in mathematical application between 2000 and 2003.
Out of school, a relatively high number of young Japanese are also out of a job. While Japan claims overall unemployment rates of under five percent, joblessness among 15 to 24 year olds grew from around six percent in 1995 to almost ten percent in 2003.
Instead of investing in its people, Japan continues to pour funds into infrastructure. By 2003, the government had laid 3.07 kilometers of concrete road per square kilometer – more than any other country. Germany ranked second, but with only 1.77 kilometers per square kilometer. Compared with the U.S., Japan has 30 times more concrete per person. Even though only a few of Japan’s numerous highways are profitable, the government still plans to build more roads and bridges.
Infrastructure maintenance costs are high and contribute to the growing financial burden on Japan’s shrinking population. The ratio of total public debt to GDP at national and local levels increased from 87.1 to 170 percent between 1995 and 2005. By comparison, the UK ratio fell from 52.7 to 44.9 in the same period.
On the business side, Japan suffers from a lack of management sensitivity to profitability. The average operating profit margin in the 1960s was 4.8 percent. By the 1990s, it had fallen to 2.5 percent, and in the 2000 to 2006 period, it had only recovered to 2.85 percent. This is half of European profitability and one third that of the U.S. Although Japan wrote off over JPY100 million of bad debt between 1996 and 2006, regional banks still hold JPY15 trillion in non-performing loans, and profitability in those financial institutions has been almost flat in the same period.
In response to the above factors and the resulting need for structural reform, the Japanese government has launched efforts spanning finance, government-affiliated corporations, fiscal discipline, regulation, the pension system, Japan Highway Public Corporation, the postal service, and a regional reform that aims to reduce national subsidies, transfer tax revenues to local governments, and reform the grant-in-aid system. While some areas, notably the bad assets issue, have seen progress, reform is far from complete in others.
Structural reform alone, however, is not enough. Japan also needs to innovate in order to address weak productivity, respond to the changes in the 21st century economy and corporate environment, and compete internationally.
A look at labor productivity in Japan reveals that the economy is polarized. Ten percent of the workforce is employed in export-oriented manufacturing, including automotives, electronic machinery, IT equipment, and steel, where labor productivity is 20 percent higher than in the U.S. Productivity in other sectors, which collectively employ 90 percent of the workforce, is 37 percent lower than the U.S. average. Moreover, while productivity in the Japanese retail sector is half that of the U.S., the Japanese work 47 percent longer hours than Americans. Innovating to increase productivity in the sectors that employ the majority of the population is vital if Japan is to achieve economic growth, especially in the face of its declining workforce.
At the same time, the 21st century economy is characterized by three factors: globalization (expanded business sphere and increased M&As and market failures), capitalization (heightened volatility due to a greater likelihood of market impact), and digitalization (expanded networks and information volume). Simplification and flexibility through innovation are essential for business leaders to manage increased complexity.
Recently, the Japanese corporate environment has shown clear signs of change. Companies used to have low profitability and capital productivity, but domestic institutional investors in capital markets are demanding stronger returns, and more activist funds, such as Murakami Fund and Steel Partners, are emerging or taking an interest in Japan. The number of M&As is likely to increase as Japanese companies become potential targets for foreign players. As a result, top management is under increasing pressure to enhance corporate value and looking for innovative ways to do so.
Japanese companies are becoming more aware of the need for governance, and are beginning to reorganize into boards (ownership), corporates (management), and business units (execution). Disclosure requirements are becoming more stringent, and there is a more apparent correlation between information disclosure and performance – with disclosure, companies become more self-disciplined, work faster, and become accustomed to evaluating and verifying results. Japanese companies need to move away from individualist thinking and embrace more objectiveness, including bringing in outside directors – even women!
While Japan has some highly competitive international players, others lag in comparison with their global rivals. In a Yahoo! Finance index ranking the top company in each industry as 100, Japan leads the automotive industry with Toyota at 100, while DaimlerChrysler scores 33.3. By contrast, non-Japanese players lead other sectors, namely mobile phones, courier services, banking, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, consumer goods, electrical equipment, retail, and food, and Japan lags considerably. For example, Pfizer stands at 100 with Takeda at just 21.1, P&G scores 100 and Kao trails with a mere 9.8. Japanese companies need to innovate in order to compete globally.
Despite the clear need for innovation in the above areas, Japan’s investment in venture capital compared to GDP is the lowest among OECD countries and around one tenth of the average. Japan has its share of outstanding scientists and engineers, and plenty of investors and cash to support them in the pursuit of innovation. An environment that allows these resources to be fully leveraged, however, remains to be created.
Corporations are looking at innovative ways to leverage resources and do business. As part of this effort, executives from a number of Japan’s top companies should form a group with the aim of promoting a freer labor market for talented individuals, including movement between academia and business, and investing into venture startups. Innovation, particularly to improve productivity, will continue to be an important theme in Japan.
Implications for translators
Japanese and English translation supply is growing due largely to two factors: more translators and more output per person on average. In addition to the translation community traditionally found in Japan and English-speaking nations, large numbers of practitioners are emerging in developing countries, such as India and China. Productivity and potential output per translator have increased with advances in technology, including faster look-up through the Internet and wider use of tools such as translation memory, optical character recognition, and voice recognition. Increased supply is putting downward pressure on translation rates in parts of the market. In a sense, this reflects a balancing of supply and demand compared with the past when limited supply drove prices higher.
The good news for translators is that globalization and larger flows of information will bring more translation demand because most people will not have the skill or will to learn the required languages quickly enough to be able to operate effectively in a multilingual environment. In this expanded market, if translators translate like machines, that is, if they simply replace words automatically with little consideration for context or appropriate target-audience style, they will produce material of machine-translation quality and earn at machine-translation rates. Translators who provide a value-added service through expertise in their field and polished writing skills will command higher rates. Quality is key.
Why should I join JAT?
Being a member of JAT allows you to:
- Connect to a community of fellow translators and interpreters.
Especially for freelancers, being a translator can be a fairly isolating experience, as many of our members work alone from home, for clients on other continents. JAT helps to bring back a sense of community through jat-list, a mailing list where members can ask eachother questions about translation-related topics, monthly meetings about translation topics held in the Tokyo area, annual IJET conferences, and other events around the world.
- Promote yourself in our database of translators.
Translation agencies and other companies or individuals looking for translation services can search our open database by language, specialization, and location. And since every member gets their own address on the JAT web site (
member.jat.orgmember-name), it’s easy to refer clients to your resume.
- Get discounts on JAT events like IJET and monthly meetings.
Being a JAT member entitles you to discounts on IJET conferences, and free admission to our monthly meetings in Tokyo. For our more active members, these discounts offset most of the membership dues.
How do I become a JAT member?
First, you need to create a profile by going to our Signup page. Once you’ve done this, and logged in as a guest, you can become a JAT member by clicking the “Become a member” button from your Settings page. As soon as you’ve paid your dues, you can subscribe to the mailing list and enjoy all the other benefits of membership.
How much does it cost to become a JAT member?
The annual dues for JAT membership are JPY 10,000.
How can I pay my membership fee?
You can pay by either PayPal or Japanese bank transfer. More details are available here.
What is my OpenID identity URL?
OpenID is a protocol that lets anyone log in to any supporting website with a single, unified login. This means that you can use one login for all sites that support OpenID, instead of having to remember a username and password for each. You can learn more about OpenID, or create your new OpenID account in English or in Japanese. Note that OpenID is offered as a convenience, and not required in order to log in the JAT website.
Who will be able to see my profile?
That depends on your profile settings, as set on the Settings page. Logged-in JAT members can view all of the profile for other members. Non-members can see only the information that each member has decided to make public. JAT members can choose to make public any or all of (1) their primary contact information, (2) secondary contact information, and (3) specialties and background. Note that even if contact information is made public, email addresses are replaced with a contact form. This allows members to receive inquiries from non-members, without fear of having their email address out in the open for spammers to harvest.
What is my Web address on the JAT site?
Your web address on the JAT site is
http://member.jat.org/username, where username is your JAT username.
What should I do if I’ve forgotten my username/password?
On the Login page, click the Reset password link at the bottom, and enter the primary email address of your JAT member account. Within a minute, you should receive a link that you can click to automatically log in.
Should I make my profile public?
Members are allowed to choose whether they want to make certain parts of their profile public. While some members choose to keep their information hidden for privacy reasons, others choose make it public, to let potential clients get in touch with them more easily. Since there are separate privacy settings for contact information and professional information (such as background and specialties), members can decide what to make public and what to make private. Members can change their privacy settings on the Settings page.
How can potential clients contact me?
Every JAT member receives their own web address on the JAT site (
http://member.jat.org/username). All members can be contacted from the page at this address, through a contact form whose contents are sent to the primary email address of that member. Members wishing to be contacted by other means can make their contact information public.
Why are my posts to jat-list being rejected?
There may be several reasons that your posts to the JAT mailing list are being rejected.
- Your JAT membership has expired.
- You are posting from an unregistered email address.
- Your email address has been suspended due to excessive bounces.
If the emails you send to the list are getting bounced, go to the Settings page, and make sure that your membership is current, and that the email addresses under which you are currently subscribed are valid.
How do I unsubscribe from jat-list?
If you no longer wish to receive jat-list email, from the Settings page, select Do not send jat-list email for the email address for which you would like to stop receiving email. Note that you will still be able to send email to the list, but will no longer receive email. This setting takes 24 hours to take effect.
2.1. 翻訳会社の品定め (JAT-list)
翻訳会社の品定め（an agency check）をメールに掲載する際、できる限り具体的で詳細な情報を提示してください。その理由は以下の通りです。