A Ghost in The Shell of Japanese Translation

She leaps from the top of a building, there is no need for a Japanese Interpreter to explain to me that Major is determined to protect Hanaka Corporation. What’s that? I’m a nerd for referencing “Ghost in the Shell” you say? Well, I guess I’m guilty as charged. Oh yeah, you over there that said the anime is better, and the movie butchered a classic. Well, I agree with that as well. Though I hate Hollywood with a fierce passion nowadays, I find this horrible butchery of a Japanese classic anime to be great, although the ironic symbol of an ideology being spoken of a lot lately– protectionism.
As the world slowly decays into cultural death and spirals uncontrollably towards unavoidable conflict, nations are being forced to make strategic moves in order to ensure the forward progress of their peoples. Recently, China, Japan, and South Korea held a summit where they pledged to resist the growing trend of protectionism. When these three world powers came together to talk, you had better believe that Japanese interpreters were present, most likely Japanese simultaneous interpreters. Also to keep things running smoothly, countries of this caliber use not only the best interpreters but also the best conference equipment. What? Oh, yea, you’re right, I bet that in addition to Japanese simultaneous interpreters, there were also Korean simultaneous interpreters and Chinese simultaneous interpreters. But I’m speaking about Japan today, you got a problem with that? I didn’t think so.

A History of Protection Translates to a Protective Culture

Throughout history, Japan has been fiercely protectionist. Maybe not so much as an economic strategy, but culturally. They have defended and fought to hold off foreign intrusion and influence in their culture. This was depicted in another recent Hollywood film, “Silence” by New York City native Martin Scorsese. “Silence”, based on a true story, tells the tale of catholic priests in Japan as they are persecuted for trying to spread Catholicism there. Doing something like this would not only take courage, but it would require high-quality Japanese interpreters with a strong command of both languages to perform consecutive interpreting and simultaneous under these harsh conditions. Can you imagine the amount of hard work it took an English to Japanese translator to accurately translate a book as large as the bible? Owning these English to Japanese translated bibles was a huge offense and those who violated this law were severely punished. Was this wrong? Is wanting to preserve and protect your nation’s heritage, culture, and very identity such a terrible thing? I don’t know, you tell me.
Nowadays there is a huge rift between the older and younger generations in Japan. The older generation wants to hold on to traditions, while the younger generation is rejecting them and moving forward. With that said, Japan still very much holds on to its own new culture rather than letting outside sources dictate to them how they should be. A good example of Japan not being influenced by outside sources is manga and anime not being restrained by the social justice warrior culture the way that Hollywood and the failing American comic industry have. Thankfully, we here in American can enjoy these amazing forms of entertainment because of Japanese to English translators and Japanese interpreters, who help export their culture to other countries and share what they have to say.
There is nothing wrong with willful cultural influence such as translated literature. It is one of the best ways we can share ideas and knowledge around the globe. Take Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” for example. This masterpiece has become a must-read for military strategists around the world. Not only is it a must-read for the military strategist, but anyone wanting to run a successful business had better invest some time in reading this important piece of work. Thanks to Chinese to English translators, they are able to do so.

Translating Present Turmoil to a Successful Shared Future

As the summit ended, many of us watched on with interest, wanting to see where this sensitive area is going. With problems escalating with North Korea and in the South China Sea, we watched these economic powerhouses with many ideological differences try their best to come to a mutual understanding and make compromises that will benefit everyone in the region. The Japanese translators at this summit played a very important role in making sure peace was preserved, and never has it been more important than in these volatile times. When high-powered government officials in this region need to communicate with one another, they need to make sure that the messages they want to convey are understood accurately. Japanese translators and Japanese interpreters have their work cut out for them because even the slightest error can lead to major devastations. If history has taught us one thing in this region, it is that wars between the Chinese and the Japanese can be pretty brutal. Maybe this is what leads to such strong feelings of cultural protection. So whether it is simultaneous Japanese interpreting, over-the-phone Japanese interpreting, consecutive Japanese interpreting, or even Japanese translations, it has to be done as accurately as possible. You would not believe me if I told you what was truly at stake here.

Protecting a Nation’s Culture and Protecting Its Economic Stability

Yes, I understand that protectionism is an economic theory, and I have been talking about Japan and its historical desire to preserve its cultural identity, but the two of them do not have to be mutually exclusive, and neither of them has to be thought of as the big bad boogie man, or the answer to all of our problems for that matter. They are just merely different ways of thinking. Maybe through proper Japanese interpreting and Japanese translation, we can understand their ways of thinking, and through English to Japanese translations and English to Japanese interpretation, they will also better understand ours. For example, recently Japan has taken a lot of political heat for what some are saying is not doing enough to help the growing refugee crises. Japan, a developed nation, takes in a bare minimal amount of refugees, while other developed nations in Europe are taking in vastly greater amounts. Which way is right, and which one is wrong? Who gets to decide?. Not me, I’m just some nerd who watches too much sci-fi, so don’t look to me for any deep philosophical answers or strategic political decisions. I would like to note that a country that is set on protecting itself from a cultural invasion is nonetheless deciding to reject economic protectionism. Maybe through the best Japanese interpreters, we can understand why they choose one and not the other. Perhaps proper Japanese simultaneous interpreting and accurate Japanese translating can lead to a better understanding of their cultural and economic platforms, both of which are thriving and leading the world.

Translating our Destiny

At the end of “Ghost in The Shell”, Major, who has discovered her true identity is Motoko Kusanagi, an identity that had been stripped from her so that she could be used as a weapon, embraces her true identity. She knows who she is and where she comes from, and as they say, you cannot know where you are going if you do not know where it is you come from. Preserving your past, your culture, and your identity is protecting not only your future but your children’s future as well. Whether economic protectionism is the right strategic play, whether or not it is the big bad boogie man or not, it plays an active role in today’s society. At a time when the world grows and cultures intertwine into one, economic protectionism and protecting a nation’s culture will be an active conversation for the oncoming years. In the case of Japan and the instability and uncertainty of the region, Japanese interpreters and Japanese translators will play a key role in creating stability and making sure there is an economy and a culture to protect. Or is this world destined to become, a ghost in the shell?

Scroll to Top