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The Importance of Quality Translation During Times of Crisis

Some panic in the West was due to the assumption that a Japanese nuclear plant dealt with a “disaster,” and this was the result of converting a Japanese word inaccurately.

The difficulty translating particular nuclear terms that have different meanings in Japanese and English has created a stir. Top Japanese government spokesperson Yukio Edano made use of the Japanese word “yo-yu,” in reference to the gas rods in nuclear reactors, which means the poles are melting. Numerous journalists converted this term as “disaster”, which has many various implications and stirs emotions. Mr. Edano later made clear that the situation the plant faced was “quite different from just what’s normally referred to as a meltdown” in English.

The Japanese were much less alarmed since they obtained their federal government’s message in their indigenous language, and also recognized that just the gas rods were melting—still a calamity, just one on a different scale compared to a disaster. It is likely that there would have been a perception gap no matter what, however the fact that the Japanese federal government’s message was lost in translation added to the complication.

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