• Chunichi Shimbun

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As the business environment continues to be affected by the spread of COVID-19, an industrial painting firm based in Anjo, Aichi Prefecture, has begun offering Japanese-English simultaneous interpretation services remotely using teleconference systems.

With more companies canceling international conferences and seminars due to the pandemic, Mikawa Star hopes the service will support businesses and secure work opportunities for interpreters.

The company had already been offering interpretation and translation services prior to the coronavirus outbreak, dispatching interpreters with expertise to conferences at home and abroad, mainly in industrial fields.

“For companies to proceed with conferences smoothly and gain satisfying results, it is necessary for interpreters to prepare beforehand in their field of expertise,” said a representative responsible for the service.

But the global COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to cancel conferences and seminars, resulting in interpreters losing bookings.

“Usually, February to June is a time when many conferences take place,” said Mikawa Star President Yutaka Toriyama. “Some of the freelance interpreters have been put in a situation where they can no longer make a living.”

Many companies, meanwhile, are saying their businesses are also seriously affected by the cancellation of face-to-face meetings, according to the firm.

Since one of its company officials was also well-versed in teleconference systems, Mikawa Star decided to offer a remote simultaneous interpretation service, so that interpreters could take part in meetings from home.

Through the service, interpreters can reduce the risk of infection and save time by working remotely. It also reduces costs for companies.

The firm has contracts with more than 15 interpreters at home and abroad with professional knowledge in industrial fields and other sectors including IT, finance, chemistry and defense. It decides which interpreter will provide the service after receiving a request from a company.

Although it is sometimes difficult for interpreters to get a feel for a meeting when working remotely, the official said, “such issues can be solved by contacting the companies beforehand and understanding the objectives and the background of the meetings well.”

“We don’t know how much longer this situation will continue,” Toriyama said. “We have to get over this by sharing each of our strengths.”

This section features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published April 6.

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