Translation errors disrupt trial of ex-Japan Red Army member


The Tokyo District Court has removed a Japanese interpreter from the trial of a former Japanese Red Army member over a 1986 attack on the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta, after finding numerous errors in the interpreter’s translations, the court confirmed Thursday.

During a hearing on the case, the court released the results of its review of the translations of the testimony during hearings on Sept. 29 and 30. It is unusual for a court to conduct such a review.

The court found that the interpreter skipped some words without translating them and made mistakes in translating some others. In one instance, the interpreter translated “forensic identification officer” as simply “officer.”

During the hearings, the interpreter occasionally stumbled and was told he omitted words by prosecutors and the presiding judge. The judge even warned him over delays in the court examination.

In the trial, 11 Indonesian witnesses were selected to give testimony, while the court selected two interpreters, including the man in question.

Court interpreters are selected from lists of candidates who pass interviews with judges. The candidates are not required to have any qualifications or pass a formal examination.

The former Red Army member, Tsutomu Shirosaki, 68, was indicted on charges of firing two metal explosives toward the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta from a local hotel on May 14, 1986.

The Japanese Red Army was a communist militant group that carried out terrorist attacks in many places, including Israel and the Netherlands, in the 1970s and 1980s.