Legal Translation for Exporting to Japan

Japanese to English Document Translation Services

We’ve blogged about English to Japanese translation services in the context of intellectual property rights. Professional Japanese translation services are equally important in trading with Japan, which is an excellent country for a trading relationship. After the end of World War II, Japan and the United States have had strong business ties. Japan is the fourth largest purchaser of the US-made goods. The United States was the leading importer to Japan until 2009, when China took that spot. Japan’s GDP is $5.8 trillion. The country’s 128 million residents are highly educated and generally have large expendable incomes.

Even though US firms export $70 billion in goods to Japan each year, doing business in Japan can be complicated. For example, the Japanese business people often operate on what is not said rather than what is said. They often say yes when they mean no. If you go out for dinner in Japan with a potential customer, you should not ask for a fork if chopsticks are awkward. Rather, you should clumsily use the chopsticks and your host will know to order a fork. It’s considered impolite for a guest to request a fork.

This formal aspect of trading with Japan mandates that business be done in Japanese. Often times, foreign language translation of business and legal documents is required. The US businesses interested in doing business with in Japan will benefit from services of a professional English to Japanese interpreter.

Case Study: Importing Wine

The Japanese consumers are some of the most demanding in the world. Wine is an excellent example of a US product that has been successfully imported into Japan. Traditionally, the Japanese consumers have preferred sake or beer. In recent years, however, younger consumers have started to prefer wine. Knowing this, the US wine producers have steadily increased their share of a wine market in Japan from 7.1% to 7.7%. In particular, California wineries, along with other west coast wineries, have an excellent reputation in Japan. While the market is fairly regulated, the US wine producers have been able to navigate the process. They are required to translate important documents for the Japanese regulators to review prior to importing the product.

Case Study: Importing Beef

On the other hand, there have been significant challenges in the Japanese market in recent years pertaining to beef imports. The country has severely curtailed the importation of beef from the United States due to concerns about the mad cow disease. At the time, the US exported beef worth more than $1billion annually to the Asian island country. After some heavy negotiations, Japan eased restrictions on beef imports in 2013, but the US brands have prestige. The US beef producers have been working hard to repair their products’ reputation in Japan.

Moving Towards a Trade Agreement?

No formal trade agreement exists between the United States and Japan, but pressure was placed on Japan to sign an agreement after the US-Korea trade deal was finalized. There was talk of a direct agreement between the two countries, but negotiations did not advance far.

Instead, in 2005 Japan started to participating in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The agreement will be between multiple nations in Asia and the Americas, including the United States, Chile and Mexico. This be the largest trade agreement in the history of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The goal is to give the US companies and agricultural producers access to some of the fastest growing markets in the world. The agreement has not been finalized, partially due to Japan’s concerns about reducing trade barriers on the US agricultural imports.

Up Next: Phone Interpreting and the Confrontation Clause