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Translation of Laws and Regulations into Foreign Languages

1. Introduction

 The government first began to consider coordinating the translation of Japanese laws into foreign languages as part of judicial system reforms; in a globalizing world, it is important for Japan's laws to be conveyed accurately, and as a decision had been reached that an active effort needed to be made to facilitate the translation of Japanese laws into foreign languages, it was decided that the government would develop the infrastructure to do so.
 Following this, the Liaison Conference of the Relevant Ministries and Agencies for Developing a Foundation for Promoting the Translation of Japanese Laws and Regulations into Foreign Languages was established in the Cabinet Secretariat in January 2005, and when a temporary website was launched in the beginning of 2006, Japanese/English translations of Japanese laws and regulations began to be offered for free from a centralized source.
 In April 2009, the Ministry of Justice began running the current version of the website dedicated to the translation of Japanese laws and regulations―the Japanese Law Translation Database System (JLT Website)―and started full-scale operations to facilitate the translation of Japanese laws and regulations into foreign languages.

2. What We Do

 The Ministry of Justice follows up with the responsible ministries and agencies on their implementation of the Translation Development Plan, which is decided upon at meetings of the above-mentioned Liaison Conference; it prepares and revises the Standard Legal Terms Dictionary and the Law Translation Guidelines, which serve as the unified rules that each ministry and agency uses when translating the laws and regulations under its jurisdiction; and in addition to implementing day-to-day operations that make it possible to prepare, maintain, and provide high-quality translations, the Ministry of Justice makes available not only translated laws and regulations, but also materials such as the previously mentioned Standard Legal Terms Dictionary, Law Translation Guidelines, and Translation Development Plan on the JLT Website.

3. What Steps Are Involved Before a Translated Law Is Made Available to the Public?

 The process is as explained in the document entitled Law Translation Workflow. First, the responsible ministry or agency prepares a draft translation of the law in question and submits it to the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice then has the draft proofread by a native English speaker, evaluated by a legal expert, and checked by a coordinator who is familiar with Japanese and English-language law. The responsible ministry or agency decides on a translation for release in consideration of the results of the evaluations and checks that have taken place at the Ministry of Justice, and that version is made available on the JLT Website as the finalized translation.
 As you can see, many steps are involved before the finalized translation of a law is made available to the public, and these take time, so for user convenience, the Ministry of Justice takes draft translations that have passed an established evaluation screening, marks them clearly as tentative translations, and makes them available to the public in advance, before making available the finalized translations.

 Law Translation Workflow

The Ministry of Justice

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