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戦後70年安倍談話の原文と翻訳を並べてみた / What PM Abe has said in his WWII statement


Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has just released his statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The cabinet office released an official English translation of this statement at the same time. I think quite a few of us working between Japanese and English will be interested to see how the translation dealt with the key words and phrases of this much anticipated statement, so I thought I’d pick them out for copmarison.


Before the statement came out, the focus of the media speculation centred around these key words that were included in his predecessors’ 50th and 60th anniversary statements:

  • 植民地支配/colonial rule
  • 侵略/invasion
  • お詫び/apology
  • 反省/repentance


More than one hundred years ago, vast colonies possessed mainly by the Western powers stretched out across the world. With their overwhelming supremacy in technology, waves of colonial rule surged toward Asia in the 19th century. There is no doubt that the resultant sense of crisis drove Japan forward to achieve modernization. Japan built a constitutional government earlier than any other nation in Asia. The country preserved its independence throughout. The Japan-Russia War gave encouragement to many people under colonial rule from Asia to Africa.



Incident, aggression, war — we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. We shall abandon colonial rule forever and respect the right of self-determination of all peoples throughout the world.
With deep repentance for the war, Japan made that pledge.



Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war.



In Japan, the postwar generations now exceed eighty per cent of its population. We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.



Looking at the original Japanese text, it’s clear that Abe was keenly aware of the media focus on the key words; he made sure that they were all there. Another thing he obviously paid a lot of attention to, however, was that the none of these key words should appear as his own words or statements of intent, with crafty use of subjects and contextual caveats. This must have presented a major headache to the translator(s?) tasked with the production of the English version. I feel that, in places, the translator admitted defeat and opted for more clarity. I’d be very interested to hear what other Japanese/English translators think of this effort.


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