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Translation and Rewriting (Japanese-English)

Part 6

'Balance' and 'Flexibility'

本年7月末までに農業および非農産品の枠組を目指すという目標を日本は全面的に支持しています。カンクンの失敗を2度繰り返さないよう、「志」と「柔軟性」のバランスを模索することが不可欠です。農業については、「多様な農業の共存」を可能にし、農業改革を促進し、輸出国と日本を含む輸入国の要請をバランスさせることが必要と考えます。非農産品市場アクセスについては、高関税国と低関税国の関税格差を是正する関税削減方式や、意味ある分野別関税撤廃等の実現について、高い志を維持する一方で、すべての国が受け入れ可能となるような一定の柔軟性を模索しつつ、検討を進めていくべきと考えます。

My translation

Japan fully supports the goal of setting in place a framework for agricultural and non-agricultural goods by the end of July this year. In order to avoid a repeat of Cancun, it is essential to seek a balance between ambition and flexibility. On agriculture, I believe we need to find a balance between the demands of exporters and the demands of importers (such as Japan) that will allow the coexistence of different types of agriculture and promote agricultural reform. On the issue of market access for non-agricultural goods, we must remain ambitious in our efforts to reduce tariffs, thus closing the gap between high-tariff countries and low-tariff countries, and to achieve significant sectoral tariff removal. At the same time, we must seek a level of flexibility that is acceptable to all countries.

Official translation

Japan very much supports the objective of reaching agreement on a framework for agricultural and non-agricultural products by the end of July. Because it would be fatal were we to fail again, it is essential that all parties temper their own ambitions with the flexibility needed to reach an agreement. In the agricultural area, we need to facilitate the coexistence of "various types of agriculture," promote agrarian reform, and achieve balance between the demands of the exporting countries and those of importing countries such as Japan. In non-agricultural market access, we very much aspire to adopt a formula that can narrow the differences between the high-tariff countries and the low-tariff countries and can achieve significant sectoral tariff eliminations or harmonizations, and there is a real need to be looking at these elements flexibly so they can be made acceptable to all concerned.

 

Structure and flow

The passage starts by stating Japan's support for an agreement by the end-of-July (2004) deadline. It then elaborates on the need to balance 'ambition' and 'flexibility' so as to avoid a repitition of Cancun. Balance is needed in both agricultural products and non-agricultural products. For agricultural products, the need is to (1) facilitate the coexistence of 'various types of agriculture', (2) promote agricultural reform, and (3) maintain a balance between exporters and importers. For non-agricultural products, 'ambition' is needed to reduce the gap between high-tariff and low-tariff countries while 'flexibility' is needed so that proposals can be accepted by all countries.

My translation follows the sentence structure of the Japanese quite closely. This is most clearly seen in the sentence カンクンの失敗を2度繰り返さないよう、「志」と「柔軟性」のバランスを模索することが不可欠です, which I have rendered as 'In order to avoid a repeat of Cancun, it is essential to seek a balance between ambition and flexibility'. This is a quite bald rendition in impersonal style ('it is essential to') using abstract, disembodied terms ('seek a balance between ambition and flexibility'). The subject is understood -- participants in the process -- but not spelt out.

The official translation is much more forceful: 'Because it would be fatal were we to fail again, it is essential that all parties temper their own ambitions with the flexibility needed to reach an agreement'. The translation starts out with the emphatic 'Because it would be fatal were we to fail again...' It then explicitly lays the onus on 'all parties' to 'temper their ambitions with flexibility', changing the impersonal tone of the Japanese to a very direct appeal to 'all parties'.

The last sentence in the Japanese uses 一方 as a concrete way of expressing the balance between 'ambition' and 'flexibility': '高い志を維持する一方で、すべての国が受け入れ可能となるような一定の柔軟性を模索する'. My translation uses the mundane but serviceable 'at the same time' to achieve a similar effect. The official translation moves away from this balanced and unremarkable structure to make the second statement reinforce the first: 'We very much aspire to adopt a formula...., and there is a real need to be looking at these elements flexibly so that...' This subtly alters the logical thrust of the sentence and makes the argument sound more convincing.

Vocabulary

The following table shows some of the vocabulary choices in the two translations.

Japanese original Literal meaning My translation Official translation
非農産品 'non-agricultural products' 'non-agricultural goods' 'non-agricultural products'
枠組 'framework' 'framework' 'framework'
模索する 'grope (towards)' 'to seek' Omitted
多様な農業の共存 'co-existence of various types of agriculture' 'coexistence of different types of agriculture' the coexistence of "various types of agriculture,"
農業改革 'agricultural reform' 'agricultural reform' 'agrarian reform'
分野別関税撤廃 'sectoral tariff eliminations' 'sectoral tariff removal' 'sectoral tariff eliminations or harmonizations'
高い志を維持する 'maintain a high level of ambition' 'remain ambitious in our efforts' 'very much aspire to'
一定の柔軟性 'a certain level of flexibility' 'a level of flexibility' '(look) flexibly'
検討を進めていく 'carry out consideration' 'seek' 'to be looking'

In the official translation, the entire passage is smoothly written in natural-sounding English.

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