One in five interpreters suffers from "repetitive strain injury," investigation says

Edano Chief Cabinet Secretary (right) at a press conference with interpreter in Prime Minister's Office on night, March 14.

June 4, 2011

The investigation led by the "National Study Society of Interpreting Issues", located in Kyoto City reported that about 80 percent of the interpreters claim for the stiff neck; one in five interpreters may have the possibility of developing "repetitive strain injury. The working environment for the interpreter hardly improves compared with 20 years ago.

The work of the interpreter is harder than what is believed though the specialty like the simultaneous interpretation, etc. at the Prime Minister press conference is high. The society believes that it has been caused by the hard working environment and lack of interpreters required for the quality of work.

The repetitive strain injury is an occupational disease that keeping repeatedly the hands/arms move with the same posture causes not only stiffness and numbness, but also feeling sluggish, nausea, even the sleep disturbance, etc.

The investigation was executed with 1,535 interpreters in the country in September, 2010. 20.2% of the interpreters reported that they always felt the pain and numbness somewhere of the neck, the shoulder, the arm, and the hand, which is almost the same level as the last investigation (20.4%) conduced ten years ago. It also had not been improved since 20 years ago (24.2%).

The interpreters are certified by passing the national examination under the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, or prefecture administrative divisions. There are 2,614 interpreters as of February 1, 2011.

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