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INTRODUCTION 1 Introduction “Impartiality and avoidance of conflict of interest” is a canon universally found in codes of ethics for court interpreters today. Some codes provide a list of circumstances that potentially create perceived or real conflicts of interest for interpreters, as when, for example, the interpreter is a friend, associate or relative of a party to the proceedings, counsel for a party, or a witness involved in the proceedings, or has previously been employed by one of the parties (see, for example, Hewitt 1995; Massachusetts 1988; Wisconsin 2002). Whether it be a case against a drug dealer, a terrorist or a pirate who needs an interpreter’s services, it seems hardly conceivable for a court to hire an interpreter who was a subordinate of the defendant or a member of the group to which the suspect belonged, unless, that is, it could not find any other interpreter of the language that the defendant speaks. This highly unusual situation is exactly what happened in Tokyo, right after the Second World War, at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE). The proceedings of the IMTFE, more commonly known as the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal or the Tokyo Trial, essentially amounted to the Japanese counterpart of the Nuremberg Trial. Here, in the court proceedings 2 INTERPRETING THE TOKYO WAR CRIMES TRIAL against Japanese war crimes suspects, the communication across differentlanguageswasmediatedbyJapanesegovernmentemployees and other Japanese nationals. Of the handful who interpreted the proceedings, about half were associated with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the rest were Japanese citizens with bilingual backgrounds, including two former soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army. One of the interpreters was the son of a war crimes suspect who testified for the defense during the trial. Given the fact that three former foreign ministers, two high-ranking diplomats and seventeen military leaders were included among the twenty-eight defendants, these interpreters were,in effect,working in a trial in which the lives of their former superiors were at stake. Further complicating this unusual arrangement were four Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans) who monitored the Japanese interpreters’ work throughout the trial and, if it appeared necessary, corrected it. They were all Kibei (Nisei who had had some schooling in Japan and had then returned to the United States). Because of their experience and education in Japan, Kibei had been most readily suspected of disloyalty to the United States and had suffered prejudice, even from other Japanese Americans, before the end of the war. In fact, with the exception of one of them, who was teaching at the U.S. Navy’s elite Japanese language school, all these monitors had been detained in an internment camp as“enemy aliens” after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, and had been recruited directly from the camp by the U.S. Army to work in military intelligence against Japan during the Pacific War. With this extraordinary background, these Kibei linguists arrived at the IMTFE to work as monitors of the Japanese interpreters' work. (The term‘linguists’ is used in this book to refer to all those who worked in languagerelated functions during the war and the trial, since that is how they were referred to in the relevant documents.) For these monitors,the accused were leaders of their parents’homeland, people who shared their cultural heritage and, perhaps, people whom they may have admired during their schooling in Japan. INTRODUCTION 3 On top of this complex arrangement, two U.S. military officers were involved in the interpreting and translation services during the Tokyo Trial. (Both are referred to in the relevant archival documents as “Caucasians,” which is now a somewhat outdated term but is retained in this book for convenience.) When there was any dispute over interpretations or translations, it was referred to the Language Arbitration Board, which consisted of one member appointed by the Tribunal, one representing the defense and one representing the prosecution. The one appointed by the Tribunal was designated the “language arbiter,” a role performed by two Caucasian officers at different times over the course of the trial. Although the first arbiter had been born and raised in Japan and was fluent in Japanese, the other had limited Japanese proficiency. WhetherproficientinJapaneseornot,thearbiter,whowasseatedon the prosecution’s side of the courtroom, was responsible for ruling on translation and interpreting disputes, and came to the lectern to announce the board’s ruling whenever the occasion arose...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780776619125
Related ISBN
9780776607290
MARC Record
OCLC
695537968
Pages
192
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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