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I am a native English speaker who has been working bilingually in Japan for several years. I'm just starting to research interpreting career opportunities by looking into professional training, master's programs, and learning the lingo and definitions of different parts of the world of interpreting.

The first thing I've learned is that my Japanese is probably not yet up to B level, but with a year or two of focused work I think I could get myself there. I know where my knowledge gaps are, and I'm the kind of person who will have fun filling them in.

The second thing I've learned is that while interpreting is extremely difficult, few people are able to do it, and demand for this kind of work seems to be rising, there still seems to be stiff competition and the career path seems rocky and uncertain depending on language combination and many other factors. There are also some apparently stark divisions between various fields (conference vs everything else), and the majority of information I've found online is about conference interpreting in the EU.

All this is to say, I would love to get some information on the JA->EN market. Conference/escort/ad-hoc/courtroom, in Japan/Europe/US/elsewhere, professional or degree programs, I am interested in learning about all of it for the sake of helping me figure out if this is a field I want to pursue.

Thank you in advance for any information or advice you may have!

asked 21 Dec '14, 00:59

Dana%20Berte's gravatar image

Dana Berte

edited 21 Dec '14, 04:45

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

I used to read a blog by a French gentleman called Lionel Dersot who did FR/EN <> JP interpretation in Japan (I believe he no longer has an interpretation blog). You can still find him online, though (Twitter, etc.), and this might prove a valuable source of information.

I remember him writing that Japanese clients prefer native Japanese interpreters as they find it harder to trust a foreigner (or that the foreigner would have their best interest in mind, rather than the foreign speakers' interest).

permanent link

answered 22 Dec '14, 09:00

alexandrec's gravatar image


Alexandrec, thank you very much for the information! I followed Lionel on Twitter. He runs a regular Twitter chat session about interpreting, doesn't he?

I'm not at all surprised to hear that Japanese clients might prefer Japanese interpreters. I've seen links to Lionel's blog in several other places, so clearly he is well-known and well-connected.

Thank you again for the tip!

(24 Dec '14, 05:11) Dana Berte

Hi Dana,

I don't have Japanese but from what I 've heard from colleagues there is as good as no conference interpreting market for JA->EN. It would have to be JA <->EN (so into and out of JP).

You can find conference interpreting programs with Japanese here AIIC Schools Finder. Just enter Japanese in one of the language columns and click 'search'.

Training in CI in Japan however traditionally revolves around a number of agency-run schools which train students and then guarantee work to the (best) graduates. These are not university-based courses or Masters tho so they don't feature in AIIC's list but they are highly-regarded on the CI market in Japan. (Apparently this agency-based system dates back to the reconstruction of the country (with US help) after WWII when interpreters were first needed greater numbers.)

I believe this is one of the better known ones... ... but I hope someone with JP can chime in with more info for you.

permanent link

answered 02 Jan '15, 05:18

Andy's gravatar image


edited 02 Jan '15, 05:45


Thank you very much for the information. I have heard about the agency dominance here, and clearly that has some pros and cons, but it's worth looking into.

The lack of a conference market doesn't worry me as much as a potential lack of a market overall. I haven't even started learning yet, so I'm very flexible and interested in seeing what's out there for my combination. I'm under the impression that English A interpreters in general are rare, and I know from experience that fluency in Japanese among English speakers is rare (and vice versa- fluency in English is rare in Japan), so I'm thinking there must be a market there somewhere. Of course, I don't want to pause my working life for two years to learn a skill that no one wants to pay for, hence the research.

Thank you again for your input!

(09 Jan '15, 07:47) Dana Berte
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question asked: 21 Dec '14, 00:59

question was seen: 5,786 times

last updated: 07 Jan '17, 06:36 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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