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‘AI Is Unfit To Translate Manga’: Japan Association Of Translators Express Strong Reservation On Japan’s AI Translation Investment

The Japan Association of Translators (JAT) has issued a statement on June 4, 2024, opposing the recent investment by Japanese government and private sector on an initiative aimed at using AI to translate and export manga at high volumes.

This initiative was launched to boost the export of manga overseas within five years by using AI translations, with some translations being completed in as little as two days.

In their statement, JAT highlighted significant concerns regarding the quality and impact of AI-generated translations on the manga industry.

According to the association, AI, in its current form, lacked the ability to capture the essence of the manga. The nuances, cultural references, character traits, and subtle details, which are a crucial part of of storytelling, could be lost in the machine translation process.

They stated that relying on AI for churning out huge quantities of translated works (with a target of 50,000 works in 5 years) would ultimately diminish the value of the work itself.

In addition to this, they also voiced concerns regarding its potential impact on professional manga translators.

They argued that overreliance on AI could lead to job losses for skilled human translators who have long been integral to the industry’s success.

We are deeply concerned about the negligent disregard for so much accumulated experience and skill for the sake of cost reduction,” they added.

Moreover, JAT also highlighted the risks associated with flooding the market with hastily produced, low-quality translations.

According to them, low quality translations could undermine reader’s trust on the official versions and encourage the spread of pirated versions.

Given manga’s role as a significant cultural export for Japan, they were of the opinion that maintaining high translation standards is crucial for sustaining its global popularity and reputation.

Based on our experience and subject-matter expertise, it is the opinion of this organization that AI translation is extremely unsuitable for translating high-context, story-centric writing, such as novels, scripts, and manga. Quick and easy AI translation not only risks hurting the translation industry or the manga industry, it is not in the country’s best interests.
Our organization is deeply concerned that the public and private sector initiative to use AI for high-volume translation and export of manga will damage Japan’s soft power.

To address these concerns, JAT called for a collaborative dialogue among all stakeholders, including manga artists, publishers, the government, translators, and readers, to determine the appropriate role of AI in the translation process.

Source: PR Times

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