DEBITO.ORG
Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle's Home Page

New ebooks by ARUDOU Debito

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Alleged “mistranslation” at Kyodo News of AKB48 ingenue’s anti-crime activities: Asking nationality of perp SOP for 110 calls?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 13th, 2011

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog.  Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes (46 today, won’t feel a milestone for another four years).  With no particular connection is today’s blog entry, regarding the possibility that that the NPA’s slip was showing.

    We had AKB48 (yes, I know what the acronym stands for, but I can’t help but think of it, not inappropriately, as a serial number) ingenue Maeda Atsuko doing public service for the police the other day (and boy it got carpet-bomb coverage by the media, see print articles alone below).  But the original and revised articles had a significant omission between them.  Alert Debito.org Reader RY reports below:

    ======================================

    From: RY
    Subject: 110 Call center practices
    Date: January 12, 2011

    I stumbled across your website several years ago and began following you again recently. Thank you for your work.

    I found this article on the Japan Today site. I read it to my husband who is Japanese and he replied “It must be in the manual”. Referring to the content in the second paragraph.

    I personally find it cumbersome to try to remember the difference for when to call 110/119 but now we are supposed to determine the nationality of the perp as well!? Why not easier questions such as gender/height/build/hair color?

    Ok I admit maybe those might be a little difficult to answer too with the herbivores running around and all the different hair die numbers. Just thought this article was interesting. RY

    ======================================

    AKB48’s Atsuko Maeda mans police call center
    Japan Today/Kyodo News Wednesday 12th January 2011, 01:08 AM JST

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/entertainment/view/akb48s-atsuko-maeda-mans-police-call-center

    TOKYO — Atsuko Maeda, 19, from popular idol group AKB48 this week visited a police emergency call center to publicize “110 day,” a day on which the public is reminded of the number to call in the event of an emergency. She took a mock emergency call from a witness to a robbery in order to experience the routine of a call center employee.

    She calmly asked, “Is anybody injured? What nationality was the culprit?” to gauge the situation before passing the information on to a nearby patrol car.

    When asked about her impressions of the experience, Maeda replied, “You’ve got to ask the right questions and get the information to officers as quickly as possible, and that it is not as easy as it sounds.”

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Debito here again.  Seems the Standard Operating Procedure for the NPA’s checklist of questions given our dapper detective involved asking whether or not the perp is NJ or not (no easy task, unless you accept the rubric that anyone who doesn’t look Japanese is a gaijin, which hardly narrows the field anyway).  But since it seems the NPA (or Kyodo News) is getting a bit more sensitive about how things might play in Peoria (or at least how it will come off in media “not meant for domestic consumption”), we had the following “correction” made:

    Er, “mistranslated”?  “What nationality was the culprit?” is a far cry from “How many suspects were there?”  My translation skills aren’t perfect, and I’ve been accused of liberally interpreting in the past, but sorry, I don’t buy it.  This doesn’t seem like a random string of letters that happened because the machine translator had a power surge or the proofreader had a stroke.

    I note that all the Kyodo Feed media now share the same correction as well.  Below are all the articles I could find on the subject in Google News.  Anyone find the actual original preserved in 2-chan amber somewhere, let us know.

    Kyodo News (as do all J media) have a habit of sweetening articles that may in fact portray their public-power subjects in a bad light.  Good example was Dietmember Etoh Takami back in 2003 claiming half the registered NJ population (as in a cool million) were all “murderers and thieves” (media kindly amended it to a mere ‘lots”, thanks for softening the blow apparently on our behalf).

    NPA, your racial-profiling slip is showing.  Nice try keeping it out of the media.  Arudou Debito

    ///////////////////////////////////////

    前田敦子、ビシッっと警察官
    (2011年1月11日06時00分 スポーツ報知、と 47news.jp (共同通信フィード)
    http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/entertainment/news/20110111-OHT1T00004.htm

    AKB48の前田敦子(19)が、「110番の日」である10日、警視庁の一日通信指令本部長に就任し、本部の指令センターを訪問した。

    強盗事件を想定した模擬110番の受理を体験した前田は「けが人はいませんか? 犯人は何人ですか?」と冷静に状況を判断しながら応答。現場の警察官に、無線で内容を報告した。「適切に聞き取って、素早く伝えないといけないのが、難しかったですね」。制服姿で表情を引き締めながら、正確な通報の重要性をかみしめている様子だった。

    //////////////////////////////////////

    AKB前田敦子、「110番の日」イベントに登場
    (時事通信 2011/01/10)
    http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=ent2_ent2&k=g110029

    AKB48の前田敦子が、「110番の日」をPRするイベントに登場した。警視庁の一日通信指令本部長に任命された前田は、「本物の制服を着ているせいか、少し緊張しています」と照れ笑い。指令センターで模擬体験した110番通報の受理や無線指令の様子を紹介したほか、110番に関するクイズ、警視庁音楽隊による演奏など観客と一緒に楽しんだ前田は、「皆さんに110番と『♯9110』(警察相談ダイヤル)のことを、より理解していただけたらいいなと思います」と笑顔で話した。

    ///////////////////////////////////////

    AKB48の前田敦子さん、「110番の日」で一日本部長
    日本経済新聞 2011/1/10 18:55
    http://www.nikkei.com/news/category/article/g=96958A9C93819695E3E2E2E2E18DE3E2E2E3E0E2E3E3E2E2E2E2E2E2;at=DGXZZO0195583008122009000000
    「110番の日」の10日、人気アイドルグループ「AKB48」の前田敦子さん(19)が警視庁の110番通報を取り扱う通信指令本部の一日本部長を務め、「110番 守るこの街 地域の目」と標語を読み上げてPRした。

    前田さんは警察官の制服姿で同庁の指令センターを訪れ、路上で起きた強盗事件を想定した模擬110番を体験。被害状況や犯人の特徴を聞き取った後、管轄する警察署に現場に急行するよう無線で指令を出した。

    同庁によると、昨年の110番受理件数は前年より約7千件多い175万9804件だった。うち3割が緊急性の低い相談や問い合わせで、同庁は「急がない場合は相談ダイヤルの#9110に」と呼びかけている。

    ////////////////////////

    AKB前田敦子さん、一日通信指令本部長 110番の日
    朝日新聞 2011年1月11日
    http://mytown.asahi.com/areanews/tokyo/TKY201101100343.html

    110番通報の受理を模擬体験する前田敦子さん=千代田区霞が関2丁目の警視庁

    「110番の日」の10日、人気女性アイドルグループ・AKB48の前田敦子さん(19)が警視庁で一日通信指令本部長を務め、110番通報の受理や無線指令を模擬体験した。

    同庁によると、昨年1年間の都内の110番通報は、前年より7877件多い175万9804件。1日平均では約4800件に上り、18秒に1件受理している計算という。相談や問い合わせ、いたずらが全体の3割を占めており、同庁は緊急性のない場合は警察相談ダイヤル「#9110」の利用を呼びかけている。

    /////////////////////////////////////////////

    AKB前田敦子さん「通報の多さにびっくり」
    (2011年1月10日22時14分 読売新聞)
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/entertainment/news/20110110-OYT1T00625.htm

    「110番の日」の10日、人気アイドルグループ「AKB48」の前田敦子さん(19)が、警察官の制服に身を包み、警視庁の「一日通信指令本部長」を務めた。

    路上強盗事件を想定した模擬110番の受理と無線指令では、緊張した様子ながらも、「犯人の特徴は?」「現場に急行せよ」などと通報に対応したり、的確な指示を出したりしていた。

    都内の昨年1年間の110番の受理件数は約176万件。18秒に1件の割合で、このうち約3割は事件事故とは無関係。前田さんは「通報の多さにびっくりした。110番は慌てず、相談や要望など緊急性の低い通報は『#9110』に」と呼びかけていた。

    ends

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    UPDATE JANUARY 13, 2010 5:34PM JST:

    Hi Blog. I had plenty of time to think about today’s blog entry during my snowbound Sapporo commute to university today (a 35-minute drive took more than three hours), and I’ve come to the following conclusion:

    It was in all likelihood a translation mistake.

    I came to this conclusion thusly:

    1) I could find no evidence of an uncorrected Japanese version which mentioned nationality (there usually is one around the denizens of 2-Channel, but not this time).

    2) I find the mistranslation of 何人 (which by the way does not come out as “nani-jin” when I hit the henkan button) as possibly “what kind of person” (a possibly oblique reference to nationality in this circumstance) plausible — although that’s certainly something the professionals should have picked up on before publishing the article.

    So this time I think I got it wrong — I doubt Maeda actually asked about nationality when she read her script.

    I of course still stand by my assertions that 1) the NPA’s SOP involves racial profiling (particularly in their use of the unsophisticated and misleading label “gaikokujin-fuu” to categorize anyone as not “Japanese-looking”), and that 2) the media significantly alters the factual content of their news stories for overseas — or even domestic — consumption. Those acts are perfectly within character, as per the examples I gave in this blog entry. I just don’t think that this case is an example.

    Never mind. My style is to make the assertion first and capitulate when wrong. I find it brings out people who are willing to go the extra mile just to prove it wrong. I’m wrong this time. I capitulate.

    Sorry for jumping to conclusions. Thanks for keeping it real. Arudou Debito

    8 Responses to “Alleged “mistranslation” at Kyodo News of AKB48 ingenue’s anti-crime activities: Asking nationality of perp SOP for 110 calls?”

    1. turtle Says:

      「犯人は何人(なんにん)ですか?」「犯人は何人(なにじん)ですか?」

      I don’t know if it was a mistranslation or not but it certainly looks plausible, unless there’s some grammatical point that I am missing.

      – Yes, that certainly looks plausible (although when I read it, I only read it as “nan-nin”; it’s time for a new translator at Kyodo). And if works out to be truly the case, it certainly takes the wind out of my sails. Thanks for advising. I’ll capitulate once I hear for sure from the media outlet.

    2. demazin Says:

      Actually in this video you can clearly hear here ask “How many criminals?”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwU4SnmnELk at 0:27

      So people are getting a little excited over nothing.

    3. Kirk Masden Says:

      I would guess that this is indeed a mistranslation, as Turtle has indicated. However, I think that the idea that nationality can be identified at a glance is quite prevalent and that, perhaps, the translator had reports such as the following in mind when he or she translated 何人 as “nationality”:

      ————————-
      線路内に外国人風の不審な男 山陽新幹線8本で遅れ
      朝日新聞 2011 年1月11日
      http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0111/SEB201101110001.html

       11日午前7時10分ごろ、山口県岩国市の山陽新幹線新岩国駅の線路に人が入り込んだ、と県警からJR西日本に連絡が入った。JRは7時10〜36分、確認のため、山陽新幹線の運転を見合わせた。この影響で博多発東京行きのぞみ4号が23分遅れたのを最高に、上り5本、下り3本が10〜20分程度遅れ、約4200人に影響が出た。

       岩国署によると、午前6時40分ごろ「JR新岩国駅付近に、東洋系の外国人風の不審な男3人がいる」との通報を受け、現場に向かったが、パトカーに気付いた3人は走って逃走。うち1人が山陽新幹線の保線基地内に逃げ込んだという。県警は新幹線特例法違反(線路への立ち入り)の疑いもあるとみて、3人の行方を捜している。
      ends
      ————————-

      The article quotes the police, who quote the person who called the police, as identifying three Asian 外国人風 (foreigner-like) men. Now, if they were clearly Caucasian, or appeared to be of African ancestry, that would be one thing. But how was the “Asian but not Japanese” determination made?

      I think that categories such as “Japanese” or “foreign” should be rejected in police reports in favor of more objective observations about appearance.

    4. Odorikakeru Says:

      I have to say I was drawn to the なんにん/なにじん part as well, and it certainly made me chuckle a little when I saw it.
      It just goes to show that translated works reveal just as much about the translator as they do the original author (and, maybe in this case too, any prejudices they may hold).
      I think most people would only ever read 何人 as “how many people”. That the translator didn’t worries me almost as much as if this girl had actually said 「なにじんですか?」.
      You are right, Debito, a staff review at Kyodo might not be such a bad idea.

    5. debito Says:

      UPDATE JANUARY 13, 2010 5:34PM JST:

      Hi Blog. I had plenty of time to think about today’s blog entry during my snowbound Sapporo commute to university today (a 35-minute drive took more than three hours), and I’ve come to the following conclusion:

      It was in all likelihood a translation mistake.

      I came to this conclusion thusly:

      1) I could find no evidence of an uncorrected Japanese version which mentioned nationality (there usually is one around the denizens of 2-Channel, but not this time).

      2) I find the mistranslation of 何人 (which by the way does not come out as “nani-jin” when I hit the henkan button) as possibly “what kind of person” (a possibly oblique reference to nationality in this circumstance) plausible — although that’s certainly something the professionals should have picked up on before publishing the article.

      So this time I think I got it wrong — I doubt Maeda actually asked about nationality when she read her script.

      I of course still stand by my assertions that 1) the NPA’s SOP involves racial profiling (particularly in their use of the unsophisticated and misleading label “gaikokujin-fuu” to categorize anyone as not “Japanese-looking”), and that 2) the media significantly alters the factual content of their news stories for overseas — or even domestic — consumption. Those acts are perfectly within character, as per the examples I gave in this blog entry. I just don’t think that this case is an example.

      Never mind. My style is to make the assertion first and capitulate when wrong. I find it brings out people who are willing to go the extra mile just to prove it wrong. I’m wrong this time. I capitulate.

      (As a birthday present, I’ll leave this blog entry up for those who spend their days pointing out every fault they can about Debito.org. This’ll be a clear example for them to cite for a change.)

      Sorry for jumping to conclusions. Thanks for keeping it real. Arudou Debito

    6. AJ Says:

      I’m not a translator, but I do speak and read intermediate Japanese pretty well, and that seems to me a pretty infantile error. I knew the difference and could read those kanji before I passed the old level 4.

      If it had been what she said in Japanese, the reaction would have been warranted.

    7. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Trivia: on my work computer (Windows XP; Japanese OS), なんにん will of course convert to 何人, but なにじん will convert to 何人 as two separate characters (the underline is broken into two); なんぴと will also convert to 何人 correctly.

    8. RT Says:

      Just looking at the text, either translation is correct. Is there any audio?

      – It’s here, confirmed as written.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwU4SnmnELk

    Leave a Reply