No. 3 — July 15, 1983

This is our third issue. I hope the newsletter is helping to fill some of our needs for better communications in the field of technical translation. The newsletter includes useful facts and figures about translation and the information sciences in general as they relate to Japan, paying special attention to the requirements of professional technical translators working between Japanese and English. Issues are published occasionally, that is, whenever there is anything to communicate. The publication is free and Uncopyrighted. Please circulate it among your friends who are working in this and related fields. Contributions are most welcome.

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This issue contains information about Japan's extreme imbalance between imports and exports of information. Japan's data imports are top-heavy in comparison with its data exports, but efforts are now begining to be made to "internationalize" Japanese databases. The first countries to be targeted are France (which is especially enthusiastic about exchanging information with Japan) and South Korea (where there are many persons literate in Japanese). There are also articles about IBM Japan's plans to export its Multistation 5550 computers and about the plans of the Nomura Research Institute to expand its overseas information-gathering bases. Dictionaries on petroleum, ceramics, communications and military science are listed, as well as a 9-volume encyclopedia of Japan which is to be published by Kōdansha in late September. Some new words and acronyms which have not yet found their way into dictionaries are defined and discussed. This issue's bonus is a glossary of names of weeds, lethally boring for most but extremely useful for translators of herbicide patents. And there is a chuckle for you on the last page.

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The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications made a survey of international data flow of prominent Japanese companies, including foreign affiliates. It found that companies relying on information from abroad amounted to about half of the total surveyed (47.4%). This was four times greater than the number of companies supplying information overseas, but the ratio really amounted to some 10 to 1. Most of the Japanese companies obtained their data from the U.S. The ministry said that it will make efforts to nurture the domestic database industry in order to correct this imbalance in data communications.

As the use of computers and communications lines for data transmission has become more widespread, increasing numbers of Japanese companies have been utilizing overseas databases, and many of them are relying on the U.S., where about 70% of the world's databases are concentrated. The ministry conducted its survey of 270 Japanese companies for the purpose of obtaining an understanding of the state of data flow into and out of Japan. 174 of the companies surveyed replied to the questionnaires (64.4%).

64 of the responding companies (47.4%) said that they had domestic computer centers which received information from overseas databases. On the contrary, only 16 companies said that they supplied information originating in Japan to overseas computer centers. The number of information-exporting companies was only one-fourth the number of information-importing companies, and 15 of the 16 exporting companies were Japanese affiliates of foreign companies, which were presumably sending reports to their parent companies overseas. Only one purely Japanese-owned company was supplying information overseas. Thus, the Ministry considers that the imbalance between the importing and exporting of information by Japanese companies really amounts to some 10 to 1. Since there is a rough balance between the amounts of information entering and leaving Japan by communication channels other than data communications (i.e., by telephone and post), this means that there is a pronounced imbalance between the amount of information entering Japan and the amount leaving it.

The overwhelming majority of Japanese companies using overseas databases are using U.S. databases such as the MARKIII (GE) or DIALOG services (DIS). (Nihon keizai shimbun, June 14, 1983, p. 5)

According to Saburo Ohkita, who is one of the chairmen of a group called the Gijutsu Dōyūkai, considerable criticism has been directed against Japan for its one-sided reliance on foreign information and the country's failure to reciprocate by supplying its own information to foreign countries (jōhō tadanori-ron) Foreign countries are becoming less willing to supply information to Japan in this lopsided fashion and are expecting Japan to reciprocate. Japan, which has the necessary technologies for processing and storing data, is said to lag far behind the U.S. in its databases, and there is a lack of public awareness of the need for developing database systems. It will be necessary for Japan to create a system of databases which will be readily made available for international use, Mr. Ohkita said. (Interview published in Nikkan kōgyō shimbun, May 4, 1983, p. 2)

In another development, the Japan Information Center of Science and Technology (JICST) has decided to make available its JOIS (JICST On-line Information System) for on-line use from overseas. The first countries to be connected to the system will be France and South Korea. Tests have shown that the VENUS-P data transmission service of KDD can be used to connect JICST with CDST, an information agency in Paris, and on-line supplying of information to France may begin as early as autumn of 1984. The U.S. TYMNET system will have to be used to relay JOIS to South Korea's information center (KORSTIC). Two JICST employees will be sent to KORSTIC this August to test this relay system. It is expected that it will be possible eventually to use the VENUS-P system to retrieve JOIS data in other countries such as the U.S., Canada, West Germany and Switzerland. (Nikkei Sangyō shimbun, July 4, 1983)

Eight Japanese database services (including JICST) in August will conduct a demonstration of information retrieval by means of international communication lines in South Korea on the occasion of an electrocommunication exhibition to be held August 1–15 in Seoul in commemoration of world Communication Year. Korea is regarded as being the best environment for exporting Japanese databases since there is considerable demand for databases of Japanese scientific and technical information in that country, and many Koreans are literate in Japanese. (Nikkei Sangyō shimbun, July 12)

Meanwhile, the JICST has become convinced that steps must be taken to internationalize Japanese databases. JICST has decided to station a representative in Paris and to receive in Japan French information specialists from the CDST. Through these personnel exchanges, the Center hopes to find out what types of Japanese scientific and technical information are in demand overseas. The JICST representative in France will collect documents which are difficult to obtain in Japan and will conduct a survey of the types of Japanese scientific and technical information which are needed in Europe. JICST will also study the possibility of sending representatives to the U.S. in the future. (Nikkei Sangyō shimbun, July 13, 1983)


IBM Japan, which in March of this year unveiled a small multi-function Japanese-language computer called the IBM Multistation 5550 (see p. 12 of the last issue of this Newsletter), has adopted a strategy of actively promoting exports of the units. IBM is formulating a bullish strategy aiming at occupying the top share of the Japanese personal computer market. It has decided to begin exports to the Far East next year and is also considering possible exports to the U.S.

The 5550 was designed and developed at IBM Japan's Fujisawa Research Laboratories. Delivery of the first units was scheduled to begin in mid-June. Production of the display and memory devices was entrusted to Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., and production of the printers and keyboards to Oki Electric Industry Co. and Alps Electric Co., respectively.

One week after the announcement of the product, IBM Japan had already received orders for more than 5,000 units, and the company is certain that it will have sales of more than 50,000 units this year — nearly twice the amount originally anticipated and far more than it can deliver immediately. The company reports that it is already engaged in sales talks for 1984 and beyond. This month the company announced various systems strengthening the connections between the 5550 and IBM host computers, and sales inquiries about large numbers of units are being received from South Korea, Taiwan, Hongkong and Singapore.

Accordingly, IBM Japan has decided to begin exporting the 5550 to the Far East beginning next year and will begin negotiations with companies in Korea and Taiwan as soon as approval is received from the American parent company. The 5550 can be used as a word processor as well as a personal computer, and IBM Japan has already begun to develop the software for using the units as Chinese-language word processors. English-language software is also to be adopted during autumn of this year, and when the unit becomes available in an English-language version it may be exported to the U.S.

IBM Japan has recently requested its suppliers, Matsushita, Oki and Alps, to increase their production. It states that by the year 1984, when exports to the Far Eastern countries will begin, the production of 5550 units will increase to more than three times the amount produced this year. (Nihon keizai shimbun, May 24, 1983)

The recently tallied 1982 sales totals for computers (including personal computers and word processors) shows that Fujitsu still occupied the first place during 1982, followed in second place by Japan IBM, but that NEC, which occupied the third place, was rapidly gaining on Japan IBM. (Nikkan kōgyō shimbun, May 28, 1983, p. 13)


Nomura Research Institute (NRI), the Japanese think tank affiliated with Nomura Securities, has embarked on a program to amplify its work of collecting and analyzing overseas information. NRI now has overseas bases in New York (staffed by 5 Japanese and 3 locals), London (7 Japanese and 1 local) and Hong Kong. It has recently assigned two new Japanese to its London office and plans to open a new office in Washington, D.C., staffed by one professional information-gatherer in October. (Nikkei Sangyō shimbun, July 11, 1983)


Nitchūei sekiyu yōgō shū [Petroleum glossary in Japanese, Chinese and English]. 230 pages. Price ¥3,500. Published by Sekiyu Hyōron Sha, Kyōdō Bldg. (Shinchūō), Nihonbashi Honchō 1-7-30, Chuō-ku, Tokyo 103. Just published.

There is another, older Japanese-English petroleum glossary: Kaitei shinpan Sekiyu yōgō shū 297 pages. Price ¥2,000. Compiled by Sekiyu Gakkai (Japan Petroleum Institute), published by Asakura Shoten, 1971.

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Tōgei seramikku jiten [Ceramics dictionary] by Motoki Yōichi. 1270 pages. Price ¥25,000. Published by Gihōdō Shupan, Akasaka 1-11-41, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Just published. There is another older and far smaller ceramics dictionary: Shinpan Yōgyō jiten [New edition, Ceramics dictionary]. 354 pages. Price ¥2,000. Compiled by Yōgyō Kyōkai (Ceramic Society of Japan), published by Maruzen, 1973 (first edition published in 1963).

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I recently acquired a dictionary called Denshi tsushin Eiwa-waei jiten [Electronics and Communications English-Japanese & Japanese-English Dictionary], compiled by Hiroshi Hirayama and published by Kyōritsu Shupan K.K. Mine is the 5th printing (1981) of a new edition published in 1977. The first edition was published in 1976. This dictionary seems to be useful for the specialized terminology of the rapidly expanding field of communications which is not very well represented in the other dictionaries. It has 525 pages. The price in Japan is ¥4,300, and Kinokuniya in San Francisco sells it for $36.55.

A very useful, up-to-date English-English dictionary of communication terms with definitions and illustrations is Martin H. Weik, Communications Standard Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1983. It has 1045 pages and costs $27.50

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I saw an advertisement for a new E-J & J-E military science dictionary called Waei Eiwa Saishin Gunji Yōgo jiten. It is based on an American dictionary of Department of Defense military terms published (all in English, I presume) by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Japanese dictionary costs ¥6,000 and is published by Sanshū Sha, Shitaya 1-5-34, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 110. The ad appeared in the Nihon keizai shimbun of July 13.

The Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, a 9-volume encyclopedic dictionary in English, will be published late in September. It will contain some 10,000 dictionary entries. The articles will be in the first eight volumes, each having an average of 384 pages, and the ninth volume, having 336 pages, will be the index volume containing 50,000 entries. There will be 1,000 illustrations and photographs. The pre-publication price for the whole set will be ¥130,000 (about $546.22 at a recent exchange rate). The process of editing this Encyclopedia seems to have had rather long and possibly stormy history. Several years go I was approached by the editorial committee, then located at Harvard, and asked to contribute an article about a Japanese classic which I had translated. It seemed to me then that the editorial committee had a policy of having all the articles in the encyclopedia, which covered all aspects of Japan, written entirely by Americans. I couldn't help wondering why the editors did not draw instead on expert Japanese scholarship, at least in those areas where American scholars were less capable. I never wrote the article, but am glad that now the Encyclopedia has in fact been completed with the participation of both American and Japanese scholars. The members of the American editorial committee are Edwin O. Reischauer and 11 others, and the Japanese committee consists of Tsuru Shigeto and 10 others. The chief editor is Itasaka Gen.


A recent buzz word in Japan is kei-haku-tan-shō literally "light-thin-short-small." The term reflects the Japanese preference for consumer goods which are compact. Prof. Lee O-young, a South Korean, wrote a best-seller called Chijimi-shikō no Nihonjin (The Japanese Penchant for Shrinking) in which he called attention to the age-old Japanese liking for miniaturization and argued that this drive towards miniaturization has contributed greatly to Japan's industrial success. Obvious examples of things which the Japanese have successfully reduced to miniature sizes in the past are netsuke, short poems such as haiku, dwarf plants (bonsai), and miniature gardens (hakoniwa). Prof. Lee mentions as typical examples of modern miniature products Sony's "Walkman," the compact video cassettes, and other articles of Japanese-made stereo equipment. One can easily think of other such products. They even have wristwatch television sets and ultra-thin calculators about the size of credit cards.

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Gensaki, written with the characters meaning "current" (as in genbutsu) and "future" (as in saki-mono) appears almost daily in the financial news articles of Japanese newspapers but is not defined in any of the Japanese-English dictionaries, even those devoted to economic terms. The word is usually left untranslated in the English-language papers such as the Japan Economic Journal the English-language weekly published by the Nihon keizai shimbun. What does it mean exactly? In the Executive guide to Japan published by Citibank, N.A., Japan, I found a comprehensive English-language definition of the term. Here it is:

"There are four short-term money markets in Japan, namely, the Gensaki market, the call money market, the bill discount market and the certificate of deposit market. Of these four, the Gensaki market and the certificate of deposit market are the ones enterprises directly deal in. Participation in the call money market and the bill discount market is limited to financial institutions."

The Gensaki market "is the market in which bonds are sold or bought with an agreement to repurchase or resell.

"This kind of operation started spontaneously in and around 1963, when enterprises which held bonds, but were short of money, started selling the bonds with an agreement to repurchase them after a certain length of time. Since then, general enterprises having no recourse to either the call money market or the bill discount market followed suit for the purpose of obtaining short-term funds. The market kept growing and as of the end of 1980, the balance in the Gensaki market reached 4,507 billion yen (equivalent to approximately $20 billion dollars at $1 = ¥220) to exceed that of the call money market." (pp. 17–18)

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INS. INS (Information Network System) is the name of a comprehensive national telecommunications system which the Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Public Corp. (NTT) plans to complete by the year 2000. INS will be a nationwide digitalized and integrated telecommunications network which will use optical fiber cables for telephone, facsimile transmission, and high speed data transmission. A pilot system embracing 10,000 households will be tested for two years beginning in September 1984 in the Mitaka-Musashino areas of Tokyo. Various new media such as digital telephones, digital facsimiles, teleconferencing, CAPTAIN system (videotex), and VRS (video response system) will be utilized. Systems of electronic banking will be incorporated in the pilot system. Those interested in reading more about INS can find more information in the paper-back book INS Kōsō to sangyō shakai e no impakuto published by Nikkan Kōgyō Shimbun Sha, 1983.

The CAPTAIN System (Character and Pattern Telephone Access Information Network System) (written phonetically kyaputen shisutemu) is the Japanese version of digital interactive videotex now being developed by the Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Public Corp. Trial use in 23 Tokyo wards has been underway since December, 1979, and NTT plans to begin actual service in the larger cities of Japan in November, 1984. All major cities will be served by around 1987. CAPTAIN is a system of static pictures displayed on home television receivers, while VRS is a system combining static pictures, moving pictures and voice.

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Karaoke (written in katakana, evidently meaning "empty bucket"), in case you didn't know, is a type of audio system which has been in vogue in Japnese homes and bars. It is a combination of a tape deck and a public address system provided with a microphone, so that an amateur vocalist can sing a popular song along with an accompaniment tape which is recorded just like the record but without the vocal tracks. A wide variety of tapes of popular songs recorded without the vocals are sold for use with karaoke sets.


Several readers have informed me that the name of the company which was identified phonetically as Brabis on p. 2 of the first issue should be spelled Bravice. Its new address is:

Bravice International Inc.
Sumitomo Ichigaya Building
2 Honmura-cho, Ichigaya
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Tel: (03) 235-0281
Telex: 328228 BRAVICE

My apologies to Bravice and many thanks to J.B. Fitzgerald of Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, for supplying the address. Mr. Fitzgerald also supplied the Executive guide to Japan.

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The correct subscription price to the Nihon keizai shimbun in San Francisco is $84.40 per month, not $93 a month, as stated erroneously in the first issue. My apologies to OCS America, Incorporated.

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This issue's bonus is a glossary of Japanese names of weeds. The glossary is not infallible — in fact, not even complete — but you will undoubtedly find it useful when you are translating Japanese herbicide patents. Do you have a glossary of specialized terms which you have collected and think might be useful to other translators? If you do, send me a copy for publication in a future issue of the Newsletter.


Japanese Scientific Name Standardized English Name
akaza Chenopodlum album L. var. centrorubrum Makino common lambsquarters
aobiyu Amaranthus retroflexus
arechinogiku Erigeron bonariensis redroot pigweed
azekaya Leptochloa chinensis fleabane
azemushiro Lobelia radicans Thunb.
azena Lindernia pyxidaria false pimpernel
azumanezasa Pleioblastus chino Makino.
butakusa Ambrosia artemisiifolia common ragweed
chidomegusa Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides Lam. lawn pennywort
chigaya Imperata cylindrica Beauv. var. Koenigii
chōjitade Jussiaea prostrata Lev.
chōsenasagao Datura Metel L.
dokudami Houttuynia cordata Thunb.
enokigusa Acalypha australia Virginia cooperleaf
enokorogusa Setaria viridis green foxtail
ezonokitsuneazami Cirsium arvense Canada thistle
gishigishi Runiex japonicus Houtt. curly dock
gyōgishiba Cynodon dactylon bermuda grass
hakidamegiku Calinsoga parviflora Cav. hairy galinsoga
hakobe Stellaria media chickweed
hamasuge Cyperus rotundus purple nutsedge
haribiyu Amaranthus spinosus spiny amaranth
heraōbako Plantago lanceolata buckhorn plantain
hiderikō Fimbristylis miliacea
hie-zoku Echinochloa
himeinubie Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) var. praticola Ohwi
himemukashiyomogi Erigeron canadensis (or Conyza canadensis) horseweed
himetainubie Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) var. formosensis Ohwi
himejoon Erigeron annuus annual fleabane
hirugao Calystegia japonica Choisy. bindweed
hirumushiro Potamogeton distinctus A. Bennet.
hiyu Amaranthus mangostanus L.
hoshikusa Eriocaulon sieboldtianum Sieb. et Zucc.
hosoaogeito Amaranthus hybridus smooth pigweed
hotarui Scirpus juncoides Roxb. var. hotarui (Ohwi)
hoteiaoi Eichhornia crassipes
hotokenoza Lamium amplexicaule L. henbit
fushigechigaya Imperata cylindrica
ibokusa Aneilema keisak Hassk.
inokozuchi Achyrantes japonica Nakai
inubie Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) var. crusgalli (or Panicum crusgalli) barnyardgrass
inubiyu Amaranthus lividus livid amaranth
inuhōzuki Solanum nigrum black nightshade
inunofuguri Veronica ddyma Tenore. var. lilacina (Hara) Yamazaki
inutade Polygonum longisetum De Bruyn. smartweed
itadori Polygonum cuspidatum Sieb. et Zucc. Japanese knotweed
jishibari Lactuca stelonifera Maxim.
kamojigusa Agropyron tsukushiense (Honda) Ohwi var. transiens
karasubishaku Pinellia ternata Breit. wild oat
karasumugi Avena fatua
katabani Oxalis corniculata
katatsurigusa Cyerus microiria Steud. chufa
kearitaso Chenopodium ambrosioidea L. mexicantea
keinubie Echinochloa crusgalli Beauv. var. echinata Makino
kikashigusa Rotala indica Koehne var. uliginosa Mic.
koakaza Chenopodium ficifolium Smith.
kogomekayatsuri Cyperus iria L. rice flatsedge
kohakobe Stellaria media chickweed
kohirugao Calystegia hederacea
konagi Monochoria vaginalis
konishikisō Euphorbia supina Rafin. prostrate spurge
kosendangusa Bidens pilos
kumaichigo Rubus cratsegifolius Bunge dewberry
kumazasa Sasa veitchii (Can) Rehd.
kuroguwai Eleocharis kuroguwai Ohwi
kusanemu Aeschynomene indica L.
kuzu Pueraria lobata (Wild.) Ohwi
kyūrigusa Trigonotis peduncularis Benth.
matsubai Eleocharis acicularis (L.) Roemer et Schultes var. longiseta (Svenson)
matsumo Ceratophyllum demersum
medohagi Lespedeza cuneata G. Don.
mehishiba Digitaria sanguinalis (or Digitaria adscendens) large crabgrass
miminagusa Cerastium caespitosum Gilibent. var. ianthes Hara.
mizosoba Polygonum thunbergii Sieb. et Zucc.
mizugayatsuri Cyperus serotinus Rottb.
murasakiakaza Chenopodium purpurascens
murasakikatabami Oxalis martiana Zucc.
murasakisagigoke Mazus miquelii Makino
nagabagishigishi Rumex crispus curly dock
nazuna Capsella bursa-pastoris shepherds purse
nobie Echinochloa crusgalli var. frumentacea
noborogiku Senecio vulgaris L. common groundsel
nogeshi Sonchus oleraceus annual sowthistle
noharatsumekusa Spergula arvensis corn spurry
nominofusume Stellaria uliginosa var. undulata Fenzl.
ōbako Plantago asiatica L.
ohishiba Eleusine indica goosegrass
ōinunofuguri Byzantine speedwell
ōinutade Polygonum lapathifolium pale smartweed
omodaka Sagittaria trifolia L. arrowhead
onamomi Xanthium strumarium heartleaf cocklebur
shibamugi Agropyron repens quickgrass
shimanishikisō Euphorbia hirta
shimasuzumenohie Paspalum dilatatum dallisgrass
shimatsuyukusa Commelina diffusa
shiroakaza Chenopodium album L.
shiroza Chenopodium album L. common lambsquarters
sobakazura Polygonum convulvulus wild buckwheat
suberihiyu Portulaca oleracea common purslane
sugina Equisetem arvense field horsetail
suiba Rumex acetosa L. sorrel
sukashitagobō Rorippa palustris Moench.
suzuki Miscanthus sinensis Anderss.
suzumenoendō Vicia hirsuta S.F. Gray.
suzumenokatabira Poa annua L. annual bluegrass
suzumenoteppō Alopecurus aequalis Sobol. var. amurensis Ohwi foxtail
tade-ka Polygonaceae
tade-zoku Polygonum L.
tainubie Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) var. oryzicola (Vasing.) Ohwi
takasaburō Eclipta prostata (or Eclipta alba Hassk.)
takatōdai Euphorbia pekinensis Rupr.
tamagayatsuri Cyperus difformis
tanetsukebana Cardamine flexuosa Withering. broadleaf plantain
tōbako Plantago major
tokinsō Centipeda minima A. Braun et Aschers.
tsubana Imperata cylindrica
tsumekusa Sagina japonica Ohwi pearlwort
tsuyukusa Commelina benghalensis (or Commelina communis L.) dayflower
ukikusa Spirodela polyrhiza Schleid.
urikawa Sagittaria pygmaea Miquel. mapleleaf goosefoot
usubaakaza Chenopodium hybridum L.
warabi Pteridium aquilinum Kuhn. var. latiusculum Und. bracken
yabugarashi Cayratia japonica Gagn.
yaemugura Galium aparine catchweed bedstraw
yomena Kalimeris yomena Kitamura. aster
yomogi Artemisia princeps Pamp. wormwood
yoshi Phragmites communis Trinius. common reed
zakurosō Mollugo pentaphylla L. carpetweed

Chuckle of the week (thanks to Richard Patner, Madison, Wisconsin)

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Donald L. Philippi
715 Tenth Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 752-7735