A private interpretation firm has been chastised by the Japanese government for an employee’s wrongful translation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s speech in Europe earlier this month. Abe’s comments, which likened the relationship of Japan and China with pre-World War I Britain and Germany, were said to be grossly exaggerated.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Abe was quoted by media to have said that current relationship between his country and China is a parallel of Britain and Germany’s relationship before the First World War erupted. However, the Japanese transcript of the premier’s speech does not say that, according to a translation provided by the chief cabinet secretary. Abe was asked about the probability of Japan and China clashing, and he replied, “This year marks the 100th year since the First World War. At the time, Britain and Germany had a strong economic relationship, but they went to war. I mention this historical background by way of additional comment. If something like you suggest were to happen, it would cause serious losses to both Japan and China, but also cause significant damage to the world. We must ensure this will not happen.”
People who heard the translation criticized it as “inflammatory.” while China described it as “anachronistic.” Japan and China have been engaged in a long-strained diplomatic relationship over the issue of disputed islands in the East China Sea, which both nations claim as their own territory. The error in the translation only added more fuel to the fire between the two countries. The Japanese Foreign Ministry has since sanctioned the firm and the translator in charge of the premier’s speech. They have also completed a performance review of the firm, but no further details of the review have been released.