No. 5 — August 17, 1983

This is our fifth issue. The newsletter is getting a better and better response and I hope it is helping to fill some of the needs for better communications in our field. Many thanks to those who have written and/or sent in items for publication. Issues are published occasionally, that is, whenever I have anything to communicate. (Thus far it has been about once a month, but this time there was a lot of material.) The publication is uncopyrighted and free, but readers who want to help may send in money to pay for the postage, etc. (Many special thanks to those who have been sending in checks. Every little bit helps.) I hope the newsletter will grow eventually into a sort of networking agency, and I would like it to reach more translators working in the field in this country and overseas (where are all of you?). If you know any who are not on the mailing list, please share your issues with them. Anyone who wants to receive the newsletter regularly should just drop me a line to get on the mailing list.

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We finally get up the courage to grapple with the question of inputting systems and keyboards for Japanese word processors (I tried to postpone this as long as I could but now we must face the issue — expect to be somewhat confused). A shake-out is now occurring in Japanese think tanks. Moves are under foot to make Japanese government databases generally available. The Pentel LETA-CON typewriter is going to be sold here. There is a retrieval service for Japanese microelectronics patents in Palo Alto. A database has information on 14,800 Japanese periodicals! Toin plans to introduce personal computers and to establish itself soon in the U.S. John David Lamb (Nagoya) writes about "Translating in Japan." I ruminate a bit about using word processors and personal computers for translating. There are some letters from readers about translation rates, but I still have received no answers to my question about whether the career is a rewarding one. We publish the second half of D. A. Fraser's list of terms (roughly K to Z). And, finally, there are some news items, apologies, corrections, & cetera & cetera.

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I have hesitated in the past even to broach this subject because it is so confusing, but here goes. The systems used in the past for inputting kanji texts into Japanese-language word processors and computers have included:

  1. The multi-shift or kan-tere system (a teletype system with 12 characters on each key and a numerical keypad with numbers 1–12 for shifting),
  2. The "pen-touch" system (using a stylus to point to characters arranged on a touch-sensitive tablet),
  3. The kana-kanji conversion system (phonetic input of the kanji as they are pronounced, using either alphabetical (rōmaji) keys or kana-labeled keys, with subsequent conversion to kanji by computer software), and
  4. The rensō input system (kanji are input using arbitrarily selected mnemonics standing for each kanji).

The most popular system in word processors thus far has been the kana-kanji conversion system, which uses a regular typewriter keyboard and a voluminous kanji look-up dictionary on diskette. Although popular in both its alphabetical rōmaji and kana versions, it is not the fastest system in its inputting speed, and users must depend on a software dictionary to select each word from a variety of kanji compounds displayed on the screen which have the same pronunciation but are written differently. The "pentouch" system requires no dictionary and is easy to learn for those who are already familiar with mechanical-type Japanese typewriters (wabun taipu) but the keyboard is a tablet with an enormous number of kanji on it. The multi-shift system is already in use in Japanese-language teletype machines but is not a widely disseminated system. It also has very many kanji on the keyboard.

One would think that, with so many divergent inputting systems in use, it is high time now for some standardization to emerge, but that is not what is happening. On the contrary, more and more new systems for inputting Japanese texts written in kana and kanji are being invented and introduced commercially, and it looks as if intense competition among various systems will continue for a long time in the future. Perhaps it is just as well to let the hundred flowers bloom until an absolute consensus emerges, even though this proliferation of different systems may set Japan back for decades in standardization of office-automation formats. Let us look at some of the newest entries in the contest vying for the role of "the Japanese keyboard."

C. Itoh Data System has developed a new system called the "three-corner system." The new keyboard, called the TCM-3, was put on sale in November of last year, and 400 of them have been delivered so far. It is expected that 1,000 of them will be in operation at the end of the first year. It is claimed that a veteran operator can input 4,000–6,000 characters of kanji per hour with this keyboard. This is said to be more than twice the speed possible with a Japanese word processor. (Nikkei Sangyō Shimbun, August 5, 1983)

A similar system called CHAMPS has been developed by Fuyo Joho Center (Fuyo Data Processing and Systems Development, Ltd.) jointly with an American company called International Software System (ISS). CHAMPS (CHAracter Manipulation and Processing System) is based on a "two-corner system." This system usually requires three keystrokes for each kanji. The "two corners" refer to the shapes of the upper left and lower right parts of the kanji, and the third keystroke is for the first kana of the "reading" of the character.

Those who know Chinese will have guessed it already, but the "three-corner" and "two-corner" systems were originally developed for use with Chinese texts but have now been adapted for use with Japanese. I have not seen any detailed descriptions of them.

Nippon Electric Co., Ltd., which already has marketed a popular series of Japanese word processors (called Bungō) using the kana-kanji conversion system with the ordinary JIS keyboard, has now offered a new word processor with a novel keyboard (PCWORD-M). It claims the new word processor, which was announced on August 2, can be used to input Japanese texts with a speed twice as fast as the past models. The PCWORD-M is connected to NEC's 8-bit personal computers of the PC-8800 series and is presumably used with a kana-kanji conversion dictionary. The keyboard has only 30 keys for inputting text plus about 40 shift and function keys. The keyboard is divided up into two sections on the left and right, and keys in the left and right sections are pressed by the fingers of the left and right hand, respectively. (Typists trained in any other system will, therefore, have to relearn everything they ever learned about fingering.) One Japanese syllable is input by pressing two keys (or one key if the syllable consists only of a vowel). The vowels, diphthongs ("long" vowels are written as diphthongs: Ou, Ei, Uu) and syllable-finals (such as Ok, On, or Ot) are arranged in the section on the left of the keyboard and are input by the fingers of the left hand. The consonants (P, Py, H, Hy, B, By, etc.) are arranged in the section on the right of the keyboard and are input by the fingers of the right hand. The interesting part about the keyboard is that two sets of vowel keys are provided: one set is for syllables in words to be converted into kanji, and the other for words which are not to be converted. Since every syllable either consists of or contains a vowel, this takes care of the need to label the word for conversion into kanji. Thus, the need for pressing a "conversion" key is eliminated, greatly reducing the number of keystrokes. To input the words kousoku nyuuryoku [high-speed input), only 8 keystrokes are necessary: K Ou S Ok Ny Uu Ry Ok. 18 keystrokes would be needed to input the same words in rōmaji with the conventional JIS type keyboard (in the latter system, the "conversion" key has to be pressed twice, once for each word converted to kanji).

NEC expects that this new keyboard will become the leading system for inputting in Japanese word processors in the future. It claims that Japanese texts in kana and kanji can be input with a speed of 150–200 characters per minute. NEC plans to sell 10,000 units a year. (Nihon keizai shimbun, August 4, 1983) The advertising materials put out by NEC even contain a most unwelcome claim: the new keyboard is said to be "the keyboard of the Japanese, based on the wisdom of the Japanese" (Nihonjin no chie ni yoru Nihonjin no kiiboodo) (Advertisement in Nikkan kōgyō shimbun, August 10, 1983) Quite apart from that controversial assertion, some skepticism is in order from a practical standpoint. The drawback about the PCWORD-M system of NEC is the radical novelty of its keyboard. That is, it is a phonetic keyboard with only 30 keys designed specifically for inputting Japanese and would be of very limited use for inputting English. In fact, I would think that it would be extremely difficult for anyone who has already mastered any of the other conventional types of keyboards to learn this one, which is organized according to an entirely different principle. Although something might indeed be said in favor of its speed, I am sure that this new keyboard will be useful only for those who will be inputting Japanese texts exclusively and who are willing to learn to use a radically new keyboard and fingering system.

Philosophically, I am biased in favor of the full kanji keyboard, such as that used in the Pentel LETA-CON which will soon be available here (see article below). This keyboard allows the typist to create any kanji combinations at all, without worrying about how to pronounce them or whether or not they are contained in some prefabricated (and probably incomplete) dictionary. I even think sometimes that all keyboards everywhere ought to have 3,680 characters like the full kanji keyboard. (One would never have to change a typing element again! The traditional Japanese keyboard has extremely large numbers of kanji (more than 3,000), as well as entire sets of alphabets and special symbols. The kanji are all arranged with the utmost economy of space and according to simple and logical phonetic principles. Since the kana are all arranged in clumps in their own special sections on the keyboard, blocks of text consisting exclusively of kana can be input very quickly because of their compact arrangement. I think the arrangement of the keyboard is sound on linguistic and historial principles, and generations of Japanese typists have learned to use this keyboard, which only looks cumbersome. It definitely has the weight of history behind it. If anything, I would think that this traditional Japanese typewriter keyboard is the one entitled to be called "the keyboard of the Japanese."

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The Nikkei Sangyō Shimbun (August 11, 1983) reports that Toin Corporation (founded in 1963, president Mihoko Katsuta) (mentioned on p. 7, issue No. 4), a Tokyo translation company capitalized at ¥100 million, has begun a far-reaching program of rationalization of its work of creating technical documents. The program will involve the introduction of many personal computers.

Toin recently introduced 24 8-bit Fujitsu personal computers for use by its translators. These computers will be used at first with English-language word processing software for the purpose of speeding up the work of creation of English-language documents. In the past Japanese-to-Eng1ish translators had first created manually their rough drafts, which were then input into word processors and edited into final copy.

The plan is to organize these computers into a network so that data can be exchanged between work stations, making it possible to unify document style. Toin plans to create databases of technical terminology and of standard diction in order to unify the quality of translation. It aims eventually at developing a machine translation system and using the personal computers as terminals for it. It is also considering installing terminals in the homes of the staff so that they will be able to work at home.

Toin decided on a word-processing system using personal computers because of their inexpensive cost and because it would be possible to use them in the future as terminals in an expanded network based on a machine translation system. The number of personal computers will be increased further after assessment of the system's success.

According to the Nikkei Sangyō Shimbun, other document-creation companies are adopting office automation equipment. One such company in Tokyo, Temporary Center, is preparing to install 150 word processors in the homes of its staff members for use in producing documents. The newspaper says that the adoption of office automation is seen as the key to determining a company's competitive survival in the future in the documentation service industry.

Mr. M. I. Murayama, Manager of Toin's Documentation Planning Group, wrote me on August 8 and said that Toin is planning tentatively to set up a pilot translation operation on the West Coast this coming fall. He says that technical translation from Japanese to English in high-technology fields accounts for the majority of the company's turnover, showing a 20–25% annual growth. Address correspondence to:

M. I. Murayama, Manager
Documentation Planning Group
The Toin Corporation
2-14-6 Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105.
Tel.: (03) 455-8711

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We have not yet heard of any translation agencies in Japan actually using computers for machine translation. Even Bravice appears to be still sending out jobs to human translators. In its brochure, Toin claims it has an "all-new T-CAT (Toin Computer-assisted Translation) System." This system, which is "being implemented in 1983," seems to be an interactive cornputerised dictionary system rather than a full-scale system of machine translation. The Toin brochure claims that T-CAT "will ensure that technical materials are processed much more speedily with more uniform quality. In short, T-CAT is a computerised translation system on an interactive basis which provides the translator with standard technical terms in English for Japanese terms entered in the system."

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Rumors were circulating in Tokyo in early August to the effect that Japan Convention Services (No. 22 Mori Building, 4-3-20, Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105, (03) 453-3270) had recently translated 15,000 pages of English into German within the remarkable time of 30-40 days. Remarkable because the 15,000 pages of English were first translated from Japanese into English all within the same 30-40 days. The rumors said that the English-to-German job was done in the U.S. and in Germany, about 50% in each country. The client was reportedly Kobe Steel, but this was unconfirmed. Nothing was said about the quality of the translation. Does anyone know anything about this?

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A news update: Two representatives of Toin Corporation were in the Bay Area again in mid-August. Indications are that they will definitely establish an office somewhere in California, although it is not clear at this point whether the office will be in Los Angeles or in Silicon Valley.

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The desperate search for Japanese typewriters/word processors in this country may be nearing an end. On August 12 I saw a demonstration of Pentel's LETA-CON, a Japanese electronic typewriter, and was informed that it will be offered for sale in California beginning some time in September. As you can see from the advertisement reproduced on p. 15 of issue No. 2, this is a full-keyboard Japanese-language typewriter with all of the characters arranged in the same way as in a standard wabun taipu but it uses an electronic stylus for inputting and prints with a thermal dot-matrix printing head (24 x 24) and a special kind of thermal ribbon. Any kind of paper can be used, although some kinds apparently take the thermal printing better than others. The keyboard includes, of course, all the JIS Class 1 kanji, as well as full sets of English, Greek and Russian alphabets, plus lots of special symbols. It has a 2,000-character memory, and one-page documents can be edited in the Edit mode before print-out. Documents can be printed either horizontally or vertically. The typewriter does not have a display and lacks many of the features available in sophisticated word processors, such as Find and Copy functions, but documents can be saved by recording them on an ordinary cassette recorder for future reprinting. The great thing about the LETA-CON is its price!. In Japan it costs ¥468,000, and when it becomes available in California it will be sold for $2,200. (Compare that with the price of the Xerox Star on p. 13 of our issue No. 2!) After the expiration of the 6-month warranty period, a maintenance contract will be offered for $130 a year. The ribbons cost $30 per box. One ribbon will type about 40 pages (1,000 characters per page). I tried out the typewriter and found it quite easy to use, although it will take me a while to get used to the keyboard. When mine arrives I will be using it to prepare this Newsletter, so you will be able to see what the printed copy looks like and tell whether you would like to buy one or not. My personal impression is, frankly: This is too good to be true, an absolute steal for $2,200! (My only worry is that Pentel will change its mind before I can get one!) The maintenance contract should alleviate some worries about the risks involved, but this is the first time that any similar Japanese product has ever been sold in this country, and I would certainly advise anyone to be sure you know what you are doing before buying. You won't have to worry if you live in California, especially in the Torrance area, but unfortunately the product will not be offered on the East Coast for the time being, unless, of course, New Yorkers can talk the New York office of Pentel into supplying it. Send inquiries to:

Tom Ozeki, Assistant Manager,
Penputer Division
Pentel of America, Ltd.
2715 Columbia Street,
Torrance, CA 90503
(213) 775-1256
(213) 320-3831

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There is now in Tokyo a company which supplies data retrieval services covering Japanese periodicals. The company, Media Research Center, follows about 14,800 magazines, newspapers, and specialized industrial and in-house publications. It keeps a database of information about the periodicals on magnetic tape, and data about them can be retrieved on a computer terminal.

Media Research Center has been publishing for about five years a periodical catalog called Zasshi shimbun sō-katarogu. The new database service is based on the information which the Center has collected about the periodicals over this period.

The data on each periodical includes the general contents and characteristic features, as well as the name of its publisher, the frequency, the size, the average number of pages per issue, the price, the date of publication and how it can be obtained, the number of copies published, the type of readership, whether or not it accepts advertisenents, as well as its magazine code and National Diet Library call number.

The Center sells the magnetic tapes for about ¥1,000,000, but users can also, obtain, less expensive database services for information about specific areas in which they may be interested. (Nikkei Sangyō Shimbun, August 12, 1983)

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The Chemical Information Society (Kagaku Jōhō Kyōkai, president Benzaburō Katō) has decided to take up the question of making available the Japanese government's databases of scientific information. It has established a discussion group consisting of information specialists and has begun a survey of some 90 governmental research institutes and universities to find out what they think about this.

Some databases of governmental agencies are considered to be on the world's highest levels, both in quality and quantity. Examples are the databases of MITI's Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Technical Council of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the research institutes of the Ministry of Health and Welfare. About 140,000 researchers are also working in the nation's universities. For example, the Universities of Tokyo, Hokkaido, Tohoku, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Kyushu each have large-size computer centers at which unique databases have been created. One example is the TOOL-IR on-line information retrieval service operated by University of Tokyo's computer center.

These centers each use computers of different types, but a protocolfor linking different types of computers by communication lines has been perfected by joint research between University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, and NTT and is now in operation. The Ministry of Education is planning to set up a scientific information center system by which information can be retrieved from research laboratories at universities all over Japan.

Voices have recently been raised from private industry requesting that these government-owned databases be made generally available. The Chemical Information Society has already concluded a contract with Osaka University about the use of its protein crystal database and has decided to mount an effort to make other such governmental databases available.

The Society wants in the future to act as an intermediary between these agencies and private industry and to engage in the business of selling copies of the databases and of supplying them as on-line information services. It also would like to engage in exchanges of databases with overseas information agencies. However, the Ministry of Education plans to open its own scientific information center for scientific information originating in the nation's universities and to provide services to private industry through the JOIS system operated by the Japan Information Center of Science and Technology (JICST). It may prove difficult to reconcile the plans of the Ministry of Education with those of the Chemical Information Society. (Nikkan kōgyō shimbun, August 11, 1983)

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Mr. Fumio Wada of Palo Alto is now publishing Patent Retrieval Service Japan (PRSJ), a publication which comes out twice a month and lists Japanese patents dealing with microelectronics and IC structures. Each issue contains titles of roughly 750 patents (18,000 patents per year). The individual patents are identified by their applicant, publication number, and a title assigned by PRSJ. Subscribers can order copies of the original patents in Japanese if they wish, and can also order translations. Charter subscriptions to 24 issues of the patent newsletter are available until August 22 for $595. After that time an annual subscription costs $750.

Fees for additional documentation are:

Patent Abstract

$5 per copy in Japanese — Delivery within 2 days
$100 per translated page in English — within 1 week

Complete Patent Disclosure

$25 per page in Japanese — Delivery within 2 weeks
$250 per translated page in English — within 3 weeks

According to an article in Silicon Valley Magazine (thanks to David Govett for sending it to me), Fumio Wada was born in Japan and graduated from Keio University as a law major. He studied patent law associated with high technology areas including energy, electronics, chemistry and physics, and was several times appointed by MITI as official coordinator for Japanese government national projects. His experiences also include semiconductor wafer process engineering in the U.S. Address inquiries to:

Wada Associates
2465 E. Bayshore Road Suite 301
Palo Alto, CA 94303

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Japan Watch, a monthly advisory on Japanese electronics technology which was published until recently by Technology Analysis Group, Inc. (TAG), 224W. Brokaw Road, Suite 290, San Jose, CA 95110, has gone out of business, reportedly because of funding problems. It is rumored that the former staff of TAG is planning to regroup and put out another monthly newsletter tentatively called Japanese Electronics Intelligence Report. I am trying to find out more details.

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Think tanks have existed in Japan for the past 20 years. The industry is a small but influential one. The number of think tanks is about 400, and about 4,000 researchers work in them. But a crisis has begun to develop in the Japanese think-tank industry, and a shake-out appears to be in progress. The crisis burst into public view in June, 1983, when the Toshi Kagaku Kenkysho, a highly respected think tank specializing in urban and regional planning, went bankrupt. The think tank had participated in surveys and research projects for a number of Big Projects in the Kansai area such as planning for a new Kansai airport and the building of a city devoted to academic research in the Kansai area. After the think tank had passed a large number of bad promissory notes, the director applied for bankruptcy in the Tokyo District Court on June 28, and its bankruptcy was followed by the bankruptcy of another affiliated think tank called the Toshi Chosakai. (Nihon keizai shimbun, July 12, 1983) Various reasons were mentioned for the failure, but the bottom line seemed to be a drastic decrease in work commissioned by national and local governments because of slashing of government budgets.

The elite among the Japanese think tanks are the Nomura Research Institute, (NRI) and the Mitsubishi Research Institute (MRI). These two both obtain a considerable percentage of their work from their parent companies, Nomura Securities and the Mitsubishi companies respectively, and are not as severely affected as the smaller think tanks by the cuts in government-funded research. Both are moving to expand their work for private industry and have decided to strengthen their business consulting sections.

A number of American consulting firms have also moved into the Japanese market and are competing there fiercely and very successfully. Among the American consulting firms operating in Japan are Arthur D. Little (Japan), SRI International, the Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey and Company, and Boothe Allen and Hamilton. Especially prominent is SRI International, the giant American think tank which has its Asian headquarters in Tokyo. It has been operating in Japan for 20 years. It says that its sales for Asia during the first four months of this year totaled $6 million, a 70% increase over the same period last year. The Nomura and Mitsubishi Research Institutes are keenly aware of the challenge presented by these foreign competitors, who have advantages because of their vast research accomplishments, their world-wide networks and multinational staffs, and their unique know-how and software. (Nikkei Sangyō Shimbun, August 11, 1983)

The crunch is being felt most keenly by the medium-sized and smaller think tanks, which have specialized expertise in certain narrowly defined areas but lack powerful backers. It is these lightweights who depend largely on commissions from the national and local governments, which are applying the screws, demanding more and more work for less pay. A possible solution might be for the think tanks to redefine their role, perhaps transforming themselves in the future into venture businesses if the organizational problems could be solved. (Nikkei Sangyō Shimbun, August 12, 1983)

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by John David Lamb

My career as a professional translator began five years ago in Texas, where I translated from German into English. So I had some experience of the tribulations of the game before I came to Japan a year ago. The first thing that surprised me was that, unlike working in the States, in Japan when I get a job it is usually accompanied by reference material. The brochure on a computerized coffee percolator, or the new model electronic typewriter, almost always comes with copies of both the Japanese original and the English translation of the old brochure or manual for the previous model or some similar appliance. This is extremely helpful, and something I had never come across in America. Also, the agencies I have worked for so far have always assured me that they would buy any dictionaries I might ask for. This, too, I find very encouraging and helpful, and something I had never experienced in the U.S. Other, less significant, differences with American practice are that payment is usually made by the page (according to an apparently standard format of 23 lines, 60 characters per line). Cut-and-paste jobs or photocopies are not acceptable: the typewritten original must be submitted. This seems to be to protect the agency in case the printer makes a typesetting error.

Now for some pitfalls: As a German translator, I work on the principle that one should stay as close to the original as possible and — with the exception of obvious things like journal titles, etc. — one should translate everything in sight. In the case of Japanese, I have sometimes run into problems here. Now, there are certain things a Japanese president of a company would say when greeting an audience of special customers — such as prefacing his formal introduction of his company with some such phrase as "It is unforgivably audacious of me, but..." — that simply have to be omitted when translating the speech into English. Then again, sometimes when the technical description gets a bit repetitive, the translator could be chided with padding his rendition to extend the number of pages.

However, this issue becomes very serious when it comes to advertising material. When working for smaller agencies, I have discovered that getting translators to write ad copy in English under the guise of simple translation is an important part of their angle. They complain that the English version is too long because it is too close to the original and is not good advertising language. This seems to me to be a rip-off in two ways: first, "good advertising language" is, of course, shorter and punchier than regular style, thus drastically reducing the word count; and second, copy-writing is a different job, paid at a much higher rate! By contrast, when I work for Dentsu, the big advertising agency, the phases of translation and copy-writing are strictly separated.

Consider this situation: You get a job that's right in your field of specialization, it goes well and you confidently submit the piece ahead of the deadline. A week later, it is returned with marks all over it, having been "checked" by another translator. A quick look through revealing half the articles deleted tells you right away that the other translator is a Japanese. The margins are peppered with comments to the effect that this is not good English, an American would not understand this, or even, the translator obviously knows nothing about this field. Amidst the shock of seeing all this, the final comment provides some comic relief: In some places the English is so close to the original, the translator must be a Japanese!

A closer check reveals things like "The microcomputer is a symbol for the 1980's" 'edited up' into "Microcomputer is beheralding new age of the '60's", and you wonder what is going on. Then you find out that this guy has been translating for 25 years or more, that he is a "trusted" translator, and a close friend of the president of the client company to boot. Now, given the bizarre and intricate requirements of deference and politeness prevailing in this society, how to respond to this onslaught gives you pause for thought.

When I took this to the manager of the translation agency, she told me that this was standard practice in Japan. Nothing to worry about, happens all the time. It's called "competition." The "checker" is the guy who has been doing the customer's jobs for years and now they are trying something different. He's worried. He's trying to show them they made a big mistake, and they should have given him the job. Japanese people translating into English are especially worried about foreigners translating in Japan. That undermines their position. So he's fighting. You have to fight back. Don't worry about politeness, just take out all his edits and explain why they are nonsense and put a note on the Send saying "Thanks for the feedback."

To be honest, I am really not at all sure how representative these experiences are, because of limited contact with translators here in Japan, but I am very interested in making such contacts. My address is:

Chumaru Danchi 2-913
Chumaru-cho 1-1
Kita-ku Nagoya 462 Japan

Let's see more articles like this in the Newletter.

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As you read in this issue, Toin is planning to use personal computers with word-processing software for translations into English, and I know that many of you are contemplating the purchase of a personal computer for the same purpose. I also know that many others are using dedicated word processors. I'd like to express my own opinion aout this.

We all grew up using IBM Selectric typewriters. I loved them because of the versatility they gave. I could easily switch from 10 pitch to 12 pitch; I could type with two different special symbols balls; I could type in Russian; and they even had something wonderful called a Library element which had loads of different kinds of accent marks used in various languages. But then along came the word processor, and I realized that my work could be speeded up considerably by using one. I had no use for a personal computer. What I wanted was something that I could use day-in and day-out to churn out long documents, some of them 400–500 pages long, many with frequent switches of element (Greek letters, special symbols, and so on).

I first tried a sort of typewriter called a QYX but it soon became totally inadequate. Then I invested in an IBM Displaywriter, which is what I have now. One reason why I decided to buy a Displaywriter was that almost everyone else had one, and it would be a decided advantage to be able to swap diskettes back and forth. I never even thought of buying a personal computer for use as a word processor. The Displaywriter now has some computer software which you can buy from IBM if you must.

If you are thinking of buying a personal computer or a word processor, for Heaven's sake don't be swept away by the glamorous advertisement. Find out for yourself what it can and cannot do. Will it do what you want? For example:

  1. Does it have a letter-quality printer? Your clients may not like it if your final copy comes out looking like a computer print-out.
  2. Can it print while you are simultaneously working on another document? Does it have a paper feeder for its printer? If not, every time you print out a job, you will have to interrupt your work and sit there by the printer feeding paper in page after page.
  3. Can it display and print Greek letters and special symbols? This may not matter to you if you never intend to do any scientific work, but in our line of business it often is a very important consideration.
  4. Can it display and print superscripts and subscripts? Does it have symbols like ° 2 3 on the keyboard? Does it have square brackets [] on the keyboard?
  5. Does it have Find and Global functions and are they easy to use? (Find is used to find a word, and Global is used to find a word and change it every time it occurs, throughout the whole document.)
  6. Can you move blocks of text around from place to place easily?
  7. How big a memory does it have? Can you get a 200 or 300-page (or longer) document on-line so that you can go through and edit it systematically as a single document? If your equipment will only handle 10 or 20 pages at a time, it may be very inconvenient to use for very long documents. Many of the newer personal computers have hard-disk memories. Insufficient memory is a constant complaint, even from large businesses using office computers.
  8. Does it display and print underlines?
  9. Can it justify? (Can it line up the margins on the right?)
  10. Do you need bold face and italics? Does it have them?

If you are a technical translator, these are some of the things you may be looking for in a word processor, and I would not recommend that you buy anything which would be inadequate for your purposes. Save up your money instead and spend it on something which will do what you really want. Endless frustration will result from using inadequate equipment. All of these personal computers and word processors are going to be obsolete in 3–5 years anyway.

Frankly, I am frustrated with the Displaywriter, too, even though it is a fairly high-quality word processor. It does have a number of different keyboards which can be displayed on the screen, and they are easy enough to input, but the problem arises during printing. Every time there is a change of font, you have to reach into the printer, lift up the ribbon cartridge, and change the printwheel. Then you have to change it back again. Every time. And the printer breaks down frequently because of the constant mechanical wear and tear of changing the printwheels. This is hardly what we were led to expect when we heard about Space Age technology coming to liberate us from office chores. In this day and age when the human race has succeeded in going to the Moon, and when any ordinary Japanese word processor can type out more than 3,000 kanji without changing anything, why, I ask you, do I have to sit here day after day and manually change my printwheel back and forth every time I want to print a Greek letter? The technology used in even the most advanced American dedicated word processors is still in the Stone Age, and I am disgruntled. The future of the office automation industry obviously is in Japan, not in the United States. What can we expect from a country which has a language written with only 26 letters and can scarcely comprehend the fact that its biggest competitor uses a language with thousands of ideographs? (And could there be some cause-and-effect connection here?)

If I were John Lamb, I guess I would rush out and buy the most advanced Japanese wordprocessor I could afford in Nagoya. I would demand to have one which can be used both for English and Japanese, which has a multitude of different fonts, and which also can be used as a computer. I would think very seriously of adopting the full-keyboard (tablet) type of inputting system — the kind with all the kanji, kana, and three alphabets on a single large tablet. And if nothing that I liked was available, I would start knocking on manufacturers' doors and make myself thoroughly obnoxious until I got what I wanted. If NEC is willing to play around with a weird new keyboard, I'm sure some enterprising manufacturer over there could be convinced that there is a need for a word processor which can work in more than one language.

There is no hope for the U.S. (here we have IBM), but as we have seen in this issue, innovations are popping out all over in Japan. The Japanese are still trying to re-invent the keyboard. Good for them! Let us hope that as they continue their inventive fumblings they will come up with something revolutionary which the rest of us can use, too. Then we will be able to discard this pitiful Stone Age equipment we have now and really get rolling with our information revolution, or whatever it's called.

* * *


In the last issue I asked for readers' opinions about whether Japanese-to-English technical translating is a rewarding career. Some of you seem to have misinterpreted my inquiry and thought I was asking about translation rates. Even the most mercenary of you will no doubt concede that, for a career to be "rewarding," pay is only one of the possible criteria. But I thought the replies interesting anyway. I am giving some of the answers and am inviting comment on them. H.S. of New York writes:

I wonder if you might consider doing a section on translators as money-makers. (page 8, No. 4) In the past months I was asked to do a series of articles on Japanese art. I did the last piece for ARTFORUM, and when I asked for $150 per 1,000 words, I was surprised to learn that they paid only $80 for European languages. That was a surprise because until I was asked to do those articles I was asking for $100 and thought I was undercharging! $80–$100 per 1000 words were the sums that used to be paid ten or fifteen years ago, I thought. My translations aren't technical, and I usually tell people that the translation fee is something that must be settled between employer and translator. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to know how much other people are asking or paid when the work is not done through a commercial "translation company." In any event, as far as I know, a "technical interpreter" in Washington, D.C., and New York is getting away with $270 a day or more; there is no reason a technical translator should be getting less. As for whether someone dealing with Japanese should get more than someone dealing with German or Russian, I think in principle that he shouldn't, but at this stage he should.

(If that makes any sense.)

D.A.F. in London, also misunderstanding my inquiry, writes:

You ask about rates here. All I can tell you is what I receive myself, although I understand other people ask for more, but I find that agencies and firms grumble at even what I charge. This is £24 per 1000 characters to agencies (I'm not good at currency conversions, would this be something like $36?) and £27 direct to client (= $42?). West European languages would be paid at less than half this rate, Russian about half; that is calculating on the basis of 1,000 characters = 500 words of a European language approximately. And in many respects they are almost as difficult as Japanese. As you say, what bedevils Japanese is not the language itself but the distorted forms of English and other languages which one has to try and puzzle out, particularly European names. Clients have no conception of this problem and expect English names to be reproduced from Japanese with the right spelling! And of course drug trade names are confusion worse confounded when spelt in Japanese.

What agencies receive as a markup on my work is a thorny and mysterious field. I guess it is about 100% although it should be no more than 33⅓. I once had a friend check on an agency and ask them to translate some French for him and found that they were quoting about this markup on my work. Unfortunately one finds oneself more and more dependent on agencies for work and it is they who create the impression that Japanese is impossibly expensive. And many of them do nothing but pass one's work on to the client, although there are a few reputable ones who edit the work.

B.F. in Tokyo informs us that most foreign translators working in Japan are being paid some ¥2,500 to ¥3,500 per page or translations from Japanese into English. Japanese translators are possibly willing to accept less. The agencies are charging clients something within the general range of ¥5,000 to ¥10,000 per page (at a recent exchange rate this would equal very roughly 9 to 18 per word) — Compare these figures with the earlier data given on the first page of our issue No. 1.

And David Govett reported the following about the American situation in his Gijutsu Honyaku newsletter (winter 1981):

While more confusing than elucidative, a cursory comparison of rates paid to translators reveals a surprising disparity. Nevertheless, it should be of some use to you in evaluating the rate you charge. All rates as of July 1980.

  1. $80–120/1000 words, depending on the length, urgency, and difficulty.
  2. £24/1000 characters. More for unclear photocopies, etc.
  3. $40–50/1000 under normal circumstances. Rush, $55–60/1000. Sometimes $80/1000 (a California agency).
  4. $60-80/1000 English words. $80–100/1000 Japanese words. $20-30/hr (Washington metropolitan area)
  5. $50/1000 English words (or 2000 Japanese characters), edited, first draft. Final copy 25–50% more. [quoted from Gijutsu Honyaku, winter 1981, p. 6)

Perhaps readers will have more to add or comment. I still haven't received any opinions about whether the career is a rewarding one or not. Let me rephrase the question as following: "Suppose that a recent university graduate with good language abilities, no other very promising employment prospects, and some background in science and technology came to you for advice about whether a career as a technical translator from Japanese to English would be rewarding. What advice would you give them?" DLP

* * *

I saw the following book review in the Nikkan kōgyō shimbun, (August 18, 1983, p. 21) and thought it might useful for some of us:

[Scanned Image No. 1]


Some readers have mentioned the following two books in connection with my glossary of Weeds:

Flora of Japan (in English) by Jisaburo Ohwi. Edited by Frederick G. Meyer and Egbett H. Walker. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1965.

Flora of Okinawa and the Southern Ryukyu Islands by Egbert H. Walker. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 1976.

When I compiled my glossary I felt it would be good research practice to consult a wide variety of sources in tracking down the scientific names and the common English names for the weeds. I used a fairly large number of Japanese and English-language botany books, most of them in the extensive botanical library which I found at the Van Stybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, just a short walk from where I live. The books by Ohwi and Walker were among the five or six sources which I relied on most heavily in compiling the glossary, but I must say that I was surprised by the discrepancies I found even in the Latin names. And when it came to the English names of the weeds, they were absolutely chaotic. (Ohwi does not list many English names, I recall). I also found the following to be useful in this connection:

Weeds by Walter Conrad Muenscher. 2d ed. Constock Publishing Associates, a division of Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, reissued 1980.

* * *


I have been thinking recently of compiling a Japanese-Latin-English (or Japanese-English-Latin) glossary of names of fish. I plan to rely on the following reference books, all of which I have:

Genshoku Nihon gyorui zukan, by Toshiji Kamohara, rev. ed., Hoikusha, 1968.

Zoku Genshoku Nihon gyorui zukan, by Toshiji Kamohara. Hoikusha, 1971.

Genshoku Nihon tansui gyorui zukan, by Denzaburo Miyaji et al. Hoikusha, 1970.

Eiwa-Waei suisan yoogo jiten [English-Japanese, Japanese-English dictionary of fisheries technical terms] Kōseisha Kōseikaku, 1971.

Multilingual dictionary of fish and fish products. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris, 1968.

Slovar' nazvanii morskikh promyslovykh ryb mirovoy fauny [Multilingual dictionary of names of marine food-fishes of world fauna] by G.U. Lindberg et al. Leningrad, Nauka, 1980.

The glossaries of fish names which L.M. of Denver sent me a few days ago (originally from R.P.) are short and sketchy but I will consult them whenever appropriate if I decide to compile a longer one. I also know that tne first-mentioned book by Kamohara also was published in an English edition (Fishes of Japan in color) which I don't have. (I think these zukan are intended mainly for use as picture books, and the names of the fish would be the same in the Japanese and English editions in any case.) The bibliography in the above-mentioned 1980 Slovar' lists the following two publications which I don't have:

Shiino, S.M. 1972. List of English names of Japanese fishes with proposition of new names. Science Report of Shima Marineland, N 1:3–210.

Shiino, S.N. 1976. List of common names of fishes of the world. Science Report of Shima Marineland, N 4:3–262.

Does anyone know how I could obtain copies of these last two, perhaps from a friendly librarian with a xerox machine nearby? The first one (1972), at least, might be of help in making a glossary. Does anyone have any futher suggestions?

* * *


In a recent issue I said that karaoke evidently means "empty bucket," but I stand corrected. The first part is Japanese and means "empty," all right. But the second part is not. It's Japanglish and it means "orchestra." So karaoke actually means "empty orchestra." Many thanks to J.D. Lamb of Nagoya for the information. Also pointed out by Hiroaki Sato of New York.

* * *

Coming up in future issues:

The Wang ideographic word processor

Rewards of technical translation as a career

Machine translation

Translation industry news

Boo-boos, bloopers, chuckles

Karaoke and computerized toilets

* * *

Let me know if any of you turn up information which might be of interest to professionals working in the field, and I will incorporate it in another issue. Keep those tidbits coming in. August 18, 1983

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

* * *

Medical & Pharmacological Terms (cont.)

kōututsuzai antidepressant
kojin shōsha monita personal exposure monitor
kozō ikei structural atypism (cancer research)
kōjōsen sesshuritsu sokutei sōchi thyroid gland uptake measuring instrument
kukan-idōsu ambulation (of rats in an open field test)
kuroaka Bacterium cloacae
kyōmen hansha specular reflection (in ophthalmoscopy)
kyōryokuzai synergist
kyoshiteki macroscopic
kyūekiki aspirator
kyūnin anmahin suction kneader
kyūchakuzai absorptive agent
kyūshūzai absorptive agent
kyushusei ōdan cythaemolytic icterus (?)
masshō kekkan kakuchōzai peripheral vasodilator
masuiyo masuku face mask (in anaesthesia)
masuto saibō mast cells
meneki yokuseizai immunosuppressive agent
mikeisan nullipara
mijukuji mōmakushō retinopathy of prematurity
mōchōchu tenia coli
nen'eki saikin moku Myxobacteriales
nen'eki yōkaizai mucolytic
nen'ekisei tan mucous sputum
nen'eki shōeki tan mucoserous sputum
neruton kateta Nélaton's catheter
netsuenshō thermal injury
nibai kishaku keiretsu serial twofold dilution (in serology)
nihōsei bimodal (i.e. Z-peaked)
nirenkyū double air bag
nōdosayō kyokusen density reaction curve, DRC (?)
nōdōsei active
nōketsuryūryō cerebral blood flow
nōsei tan mucous sputum
nōnen'ekisei tan mucopurulent sputum
nōyōku cystoid space (in crystalline lens)
nyōryō keisoku uroflowmetry
nyotō sentan apex of the renal papilla
nyūzaisei kizai emulsion base
nyūzai homogenate (of organ)?; emulsion (phot.)
ōfukushiki masuiki to-and-fro anaesthesia apparatus
ōhan heni heterotopia of the macula
okishi huru oxycell wool
omoyumatsu seizai powdered rice gruel preparation
onshigeki chiryōki sonic stimulator
onrei kenyō kyūki vital point stimulator by beating & cooling concurrently (acupuncture)
onkyoki vital point stimulator by heating (acupuncture)
oshidashiki tractor (e.g. prostatic)
o-to-nasu auto nurse
pattchi tesuto patch test (dermatology)
Porittcheru tama Politzer rubber air bag
Ra-shi shima Langerhans island
ranpō horumonzai estrogen preparation
reikunki vital point stimulator by cooling (acupuncture)
rensajō-kin Streptococcus faecalis
ryokunō-kin Pseudomonas aeruginosa
ryōsei sekken seizai amphoteric soap
ryūshi kasoku sōchi particle accelerator
ryūsui ...seems to be abbrev. for jōryūsui distilled water [留水]
saidōmyaku danseiritsu arteriolar distensibility
saidai nyōdō heisokuatsu maximum urethral closure pressure (MUCP)
saiketsuyō kigu blood donor set
saiminchinseizai hypnotics and sedatives
saisho hatsuiku soshi nōdo minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC)
saitai kenkaku cord entanglement (?)
saisho hatsugan busshitsu ultimate carcinogen
sakkintō chiryōki mercury arc lamp
sakkinsui sōchi water steriliser
sakkin shōdokuzai antimicrobial agents; germicides & disinfectants
sa-mo gurafu thermograph
sankaku fukuboku triangular splint
sanpujinkayō kenmenshi uterine applicator
sanpuki powder blower
sanso kyūnyūki oxygen inhaler
saruhua-zai sulphamide preparation
Schwartzmann roeki seizai Schwarzmann filtrate
seibōjō-kin Micrococcus stellatus
seibutsugaku-teki riyōritsu bioavailability
seiganzai antitumor agent
seifuku koteiki stationary equipment
seiken biopsy
seikō hansha righting reflex
seikin seizai viable bacterial preparation
seikeiyō rō bone wax
seisen shigeki horumonzai gonadotrophic hormone preparation
seishin anteizai tranquilliser
seishin shinkeiyōzai psychotropic agent
seitai genshō dōki satsuei sōchi biophenomena synchronous photograph equipment
seitai-i in situ (e.g. animal expt)
seitainai dōtai biological fate (pharmacol.)
seichōzai antidiarrhea agent 整腸剤
seichōzai intestinal regulator
seiyaku seizai crude drug
senbō delirium
sen-i glandular stomach
setsujō hakunaishō cuneiform cataract ?
senbiyō gomu kyū ear syringe
senyō 線溶 fibrinolysis (abbrev.)
serurosu-kin Cellulomonas
setsushadanzai ganglion blocking drug
shibō koroido seizai fat emulsion preparation
shigeki chiryōki stimulator apparatus
shikyū kinshu hysteromyoma
shikyū shūshukuzai oxytocic
shindanyō ketsueki seizai diagnostic blood preparation
shinbō dendō jikan atrioventricular conduction time (AVCT)
shinkeiinsei bōkō neurogenic bladder
shinkin Eumycetes
shinkinshō mycosis
shinnyūzai myocardium homogenate (?) -
shinpaku kōka cardiac beat action
shinpaku shutsuryō cardiac output
shinpakusu heart rate
shinpakushitsuryōkei cardiac minute volume meter
shinri gijutsushi psychological therapist
shinsansen neonatal line (dent.)
shinsei taketsushō polycyt(h)emia vera
shinshō kanja kanshi sōchi coronary care unit
shinchisukyaningu scintiscanning
shiryokushi visual acuity chart
shita dōkotsu fukuboku lower leg splint
shiji ketsuatsukei point type blood pressure meter
shijō-kinmoku Chlamydobacteriales (Trichobacteriales)
somen shōhōtai rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum
sōshō hogozai surgical dressing
suisanka kōso mixed function oxygenase
suiso-kin Hydrogenomonas
suirinyō water diuresis
suishōtai wo tsutsumu kekkanmaku no izan persistent tunica vasculosa lentis
suishōno izanshō retrolental fibroplasia
suichiyoku sōchi hydrotherapeutic shower
suizō horumonzai pancreas hormone preparation
shafutsu shōdokuki instrument
shaganki eye shade
shamen fukuboku slope sprint
shōdoku sakkinyō kigu sterilizing instruments
shōdokuhan sterilizing tray
shōdoku chōsō dressing drum
shōhōzai antibubble preparation
shōka kikanyō yaku gastrointestinal agent
shōkakin Thiobacillus
shokubutsusei seizai crude drugs
shokugyōsei shishikotsutan yōkaishō occupational acroosteolysis
shokuen chushakei infusion needle
shokuen chūnyūnki saline solution infusion set
shokuchudokusei kabidoku chudokushō alimentary mycotoxicosis
shokuchudokusei muhakukesshō alimentary toxic aleukia (ATA disease)
shokuchudokusei shukketsusei muhakukekkyūshō alimentary haemorrhagic aleukia
shōmeiki operating shadowless light
shochiyō teiatsu jizoku kyūinki drainage and continuous aspirators
shukansei chudokuyōzai agent for habitual intoxication
shukushō kiroku-kei nōhakei reduction recording electroencephalograph
shusanki perinatal stage
shūchū kanshi sōchi intensive care patient monitoring instrument
shuyōyōzai antineoplastic agent
shujutsuyō denki kikai electrosurgical unit
taatsuhō multi-puncture (injection)
taidō kinō sokutei sōchi active function measuring equipment
tainaidōtai pharmacokinetics
tai-mahi spinal injuries (?)
taisaibō totsuzen hen-i sotsu somatic mutation theory (cancer research)
taisei tolerance (of drugs)
taiyakusei refractoriness to the use of drugs, drug-fastness
taiji tanpakushitsu a-fetoprotein
tandō nyūtōbu bile papilla (?)
tangankenbikyō monocular microscope
tankiri loosening of phlegm
tanpaku dōka suteroidozai anabolic steroid preparation
tapakushitsu bunkai kōso protein-splitting enzyme
tanraku shunt (surg.) (?)
tansekisō bilirubin
tachiagari sokudo minimum reacting dose (MRD)
tayōso shindenkei multi-channel eletrocardiograph
teishintōatsusei yōketsu hypotonic hemolysis
tekichūki drop-adapter
tenshin fukuboku expansion splint
chikakukei petechiometer
chintozai antiemetic
chintsu keisu analgesy index
chinunzai anti-motion sickness agent
chiraizai antileprotic agent
chitsuatsu sokuteikei vaginal dynamometer
chitsuzayaku vaginal suppository
chitsu senjoki vaginal irrigator
tōgainai atsu intracranial pressure
tōgainaiatsu kōshin intracranial hypertension
tōnyōbyōzai antidiabetic agent
tōshitsu horumon glucocortoids
totsuzen henigensei idenshi mutator genes
totsuzen heni yūki busshitsu mutagen
tsubo 壺 correct place for inserting needle in acupuncture
tsuikotsu kyōseiki traction equipment
chōkanku lumen of intestinal canal
chokusen kasoku sōchi linear accelerator
chōonpa ketsuryūkei ultrasonic blood flow meter
chōmen hōgōshi cat gut suture
chōritsu rhythm (e.g.. of sinus)
chōzai clyster
chōzaiyō yaku agent for dispensing use
chushatō syringe
chūshazai preparation for injection
ukemi sekkenkyū gyoshū shiken passive hemagglutination test
unpanyō kikai kigu stretcher
ushu cystoma
ussekisei zenritsusenshō congestive prostatism
yakubutsu riyōdo bioavailability
yakuhin todana medical cabinet
yōsekimyakuhakei plethysmosphygmograph
yōrenkin abbrev. for yōketsusei rensakyūkin
yubi sakku finger-stall
yuketsuyō kigu blood transfusion set
yuseikan vas deferens
yüshisei kizai oleaginous base
zengan busshitsu precarcinogen
zenketsu seizai whole blood preparation
zenmei stridor
zenpan anzendo overall safety rate (OSR)
zenritsusen nyōdō nagasa prostatic profile length (PPL)
zenritsusen nyōdō teikō prostatic urethral resistance (PUR)
zenshin ketsuatsu systemic blood pressure
zenji saibōsei ikei cellular atypism
zenjikutaisei hakunaishō anterior axial embryonic cataract
jinkō kekkan artificial blood vessel
jinkō kifukuki artificial pneumoperitoneum apparatus
jinkō shinpai sōchi artificial heart-lung apparatus
jinkō jinzō sōchi artificial kidney apparatus
jittai kenbikyō stereoscopic microscope
zōei hojozai assistant agent for contrast
zōkanshi intensifying screen
zokuhatsusei haikesshō secondary septicemia
zōki seizai organotherapeutic
johō timed release (deug)
josaidōki defibrillator
jōshi hojoki supporter for upper extimity
jojōbutsu keisei hannō flocculate formation reaction
junkan kikanyō yaku cardiovascular agent
jüshō kanja kanshi sōchi intensive care unit (ICU)
jusōhō ring test (serology)

[Scanned Image No. 2]