How to Master Reading, Drafting and Translating English Contracts

- with a Focus on License, Distributorship, and Joint Venture Agreements

Japan’s increased internationalization has led to a rise in business contracts executed in English. In the main, these are contracts entered into in Japan between Japanese companies and foreign enterprises from Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East. However, there has also been a rise in English-language contracts entered into abroad when Japanese companies that have expanded overseas through local subsidiaries or joint venture companies confirm the terms of transactions with local or third country businesses.

It is against this background - a range of international business contracts being executed in English - that the questions of how to read, draft and translate these agreements become vitally important. This interactive presentation uses case studies to focus on specific contractual clauses and consider what kinds of issues to focus on when reading (understanding through translating from English to Japanese), and drafting (translating from Japanese to English) contracts.

The discussion will be brought to life with adaptations of real-life cases from the presenter’s own experience, including the issues that arose when a foreign company wanted to license a Japanese cartoon character… In terms of translation itself, knowledge of the local law is crucial, this being the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) in the case of the US. And some knowledge of comparative law is also useful. In the case of the Japanese concept of force majeure (fukakoryoku) for example, England has the doctrines of ‘impossibility’ and ‘frustration’ of contract, France has force majeure and the US has the UCC concept of ‘commercial impracticability’. We will canvass the key law, terminology and provisions that puzzle working translators, time permitting.

This session is open to all attendees. No previous legal knowledge or legal translation experience is required. But attendees who have the chance may find it useful to have a look through the presenter’s 2006 works published by Nikkei Publishing on reading and drafting English-language contracts, as well as the February 2014 edition of his seminal work: A Dictionary for Standard International Business Contracts - Enlarged and Revised Edition, also published by Nikkei Publishing, which now runs to some 1336 pages.