A recent cut in the number of U.S. visas given to foreign technical experts has convinced a U.S. translation-services company to expand its business in Japan and other parts of Asia, MultiLing Corp. President Michael Sneddon said in Tokyo this week.

The midsize firm plans to set up a base somewhere in Asia in a couple of years, Sneddon said on the Japan leg of a trip to Asia.

“We’re having a significant interest on the part of Asian companies,” said Sneddon.

MultiLing wants an Asian base to deal with the lack of skilled foreign technical translators in the U.S. since Washington drastically cut the visa quota for such workers in fiscal 2004, citing security concerns.

The Utah-based company, which employs more than 350 translators worldwide, translates technical documents in 30 different languages for a range of industries, including information technology, patent and automotive. It also develops computer software for translation work.

It hopes to earn 20 percent of its total revenue from Japan in the near future by increasing the number of Japanese technical translators, Sneddon said. In 2003, MultiLing’s business from Japan accounted for less than 5 percent of its total revenue.

“Japanese is the most important language besides German and French,” he said. “The demand for translation follows the flow of commerce” and technology.

The firm presently has about 30 independent translators in Japan, who communicate with its head office via the Internet and serve such customers as Dell Japan Inc. and Procter & Gamble Far East Inc., he said.

In Japan, some 2,000 translation firms, mostly small and midsize companies serving domestic customers, compete in a 300 billion yen market, according to the Japan Translation Federation.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.