I see this as a temporary situation and stand by my view that demand for legal translations will remain strong, given that legal documents form an integral part of our daily lives - we are all parties to all kinds of contracts, ranging from lease agreements, employment contracts or the latest version of software downloaded from the Internet.
On an individual level, translations of legal documents such as family registers, employment and graduation certificates, and criminal records, etc. are required during the visa application process when Japanese nationals travel abroad, and the predicted rise in the number of foreigners residing in Japan will likely result in an increase in both perpetrators and victims requiring the assistance of both translators and interpreters.
On a corporate level, Japanese companies involved in importing and exporting, Japanese companies entering overseas markets, foreign companies investing in Japan, and Japanese companies employing foreigners are all likely to require translation services at some point in time.
Many argue that Japan is no longer an economic force to be reckoned with and that China is the market of the future. While foreign companies looking to invest overseas may well look elsewhere, companies that have already set up operations in Japan cannot just uproot and leave, and Japanese companies looking to survive in the long term are likely to consider moving operations overseas or exporting their products.
The Art of Legal Translation is a series of articles relating to Japanese to English legal translation, based primarily on the “Nuts and Bolts of Legal Translation” series I wrote in Japanese for the Hi Career website between May 2010 and March 2011.