This article describes some ways of using the site which I find useful.
The site offers three main search functions:
Dictionary Search, and
Keyword in Context Search.
The Law Search Function
The Law Search function enables users to find the “official” names of legislation.
Here I recommend using the site in Japanese for reasons which will soon become apparent.
When using this function be sure to check the “include the title of untranslated law” (未翻訳法令の法令名を含む) box since in many cases, titles have been translated while the text of the act has not be translated.
Let’s assume you wish to find the translation of the “個人情報の保護に関する法律”, an act of great important to those working in the legal field, including translators:
If, when using the English version of the site, you enter個人情報の保護に関する法律 into the search box, check the box for untranslated laws and click the search button, roughly 20 hits in English, spread over several pages will appear. However, it is not immediately apparent which result refers to the個人情報の保護に関する法律. In fact there is only true search result, the others are all acts which include references to the個人情報の保護に関する法律, but without the Japanese in the search results it is not possible to tell which act listed is the translation of the 個人情報の保護に関する法律.
However, doing a similar search using the Japanese version of the site results in a list of acts in Japanese, one of which is the 個人情報の保護に関する法律 and clicking on the link will take you to the translation of the act and the English title “Act on the Protection of Personal Information”.
** Remember to check the “untranslated” box when doing a search **
So what happens when you search for an act that has not yet been translated?
The following is an example of a time consuming way to search for the title of an untranslated act:
Searching for the水道法 without checking the “untranslated” box yields a few results, none of which are the水道法. However, click on one of these acts and you will see 水道法 highlighted towards to the top of the page next to a 索キーワードのハイライト表示 box. Checking the box and clicking 次ヒットon the right of the screen takes you to a reference to the 水道法 where the English title can also be found…
....This is a long-winded way of using the site.
Searching again with the未翻訳法令の法令名を含む box checked yields the 水道法 together with an exclamation mark which indicates that the act has yet to be translated, click on the link and you will find the English title, “Waterworks Act”.
*** Note that references to other legislation in the text of an act are included as hyperlinks enabling users to jump to the act in question. ***
The Dictionary Search Function
This function allows users to search the Standard Legal Terms Dictionary and includes hyperlinks to acts which use the terms searched.
The Keyword in Context Search Function
When searching for terminology, as opposed to the names of acts, this search function is more useful than the Dictionary Search function as it yields more results, including results which do not appear when searching the dictionary AND gives contextual examples of use, together with the Japanese title of the act in which the term appears.
Important Recent Changes in Legal Translation
Visitors to the site will notice the shift away from “Law concerning…” to “Act on…”.
This is possibly the most significant change to take place in recent years, and one which is particularly important for translators to note!
Some of the translations of laws that appear on the site do not read that well to a native English speaker. However, as the translations are the most “official unofficial” translations that are ever going to be published it would be foolish not to make use of them.
While the translation of legislation MUST comply with the style and terminology found on the site, a certain amount of discretion can be used in terms of grammar and style, depending on the context, when translating non-legislative legal documents.
It would be prudent however to use the terminology found on the site.
* I certainly would not recommend using your own translation of the names of acts for which an English title can be found on the site *
The ability to refer clients to the site when questioned about use of terminology is another one of the more useful aspects of the site!