Japan is Paying to Have Japanese-Language Nonfiction Books Translated into EnglishPosted: March 30, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Japan, Reading Room | Tags: Amina Mohamed, Beijing, China, East China Sea, Government of Japan, Habib Essid, Japanese people, Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister of Tunisia, Shinzō Abe, Tunisia, World War II Leave a comment
Government opens another front in public relations battle with China, South Korea
TOKYO— Peter Landers writes: Japan’s government is paying to have Japanese-language nonfiction books translated into English, with the first works to be produced under the program arriving in American libraries this month.
“Japan is among the top nations in the world in terms of books published, but unfortunately, they’re just published in Japanese. If they were known around the world, there are a lot of books that people would find really interesting.”
The move is one of several nontraditional public-relations steps by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, which is trying to enhance Japan’s profile among U.S. opinion leaders and the general public as it engages in a public relations battle with China and South Korea.
“Some efforts have been overtly political. South Korea has created a website in seven languages to make its case that two islets claimed by both Tokyo and Seoul rightly belong to South Korea, and last year sponsored an exhibit in France on forced prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II.”
Japan’s foreign ministry has boosted its public diplomacy budget. Measures include spending $5 million to fund a professorship in Japanese politics and foreign policy at Columbia University. Another program, begun last year, sends Japanese people from various walks of life to places like Lawrence, Kan., and Lexington, Ky., to talk about life in Japan.
The books translated into English with Japanese government funds will carry the imprint “Japan Library” and be published by the government itself—a different approach from that of some other nations that subsidize private translations.
The first five books in the Japan Library were printed this month. The books, originally brought out in Japanese by commercial publishers, include a journalist’s account of a paper mill’s recovery after the 2011 earthquake and “Tree-Ring Management,” a book by the chairman of a gelatin maker that argues “rapid growth is the enemy” of good management.
“Japan is among the top nations in the world in terms of books published, but unfortunately, they’re just published in Japanese. If they were known around the world, there are a lot of books that people would find really interesting,” said Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko, a close aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who leads the translation program….(read more)
—Jeyup Kwaak contributed to this article.
Write to Peter Landers at email@example.com