During one of her medical-interpreting lessons in July, teacher Yoshiko Ishizaka, 77, brought up the case of a former student who was dealing with schizophrenia.

The principal of Tokyo-based International Medical Interpreter Academy used the example to engage her class in a discussion on the difficulties of interpreting while assisting patients with complex mental conditions.

"As an interpreter, you need to make patients feel comfortable so they open up. If you put yourself in their shoes, you'll know what kind of help they need," she told the class.