A Snapshot of Vietnam

Vietnam has been in the news recently because of its overall excellent response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although Vietnamese have become a little complacent in the last few weeks, and the virus has made an unwelcome return in the coastal seaside city of Danang, it is a testament to the government and people of this southeast Asian country of nearly 100 million that there have been less than 60 deaths and only 540 odd cases of the disease.

Vietnam’s history hasn’t always been peaceful!

These days, or at least until the Covid-19 era, Vietnam has become a much-visited country. Visitors are drawn to Vietnam because of its intriguing history, culture, geography, and cuisine. Of course, it has had a bloody history. First colonized by the French, a drawn-out fight for independence resulted in the country being divided unnaturally in two, the Communist North, propped up by the Soviet Union and the Capitalist South, propped up by the U.S. Vietnam was finally unified again after the long and bloody Vietnam War that saw the North finally defeat the might of the United States. Vietnam has moved on and even though the past is remembered with sorrow and in part pride, has now forged its own path.

Vietnam lies on the western edge of the South China Sea. To the north, it borders China, to the west, Laos, and to the south, Cambodia. The capital is Hanoi, although the commercial capital is Ho Chi Minh City, also known by its pre-Vietnam war name as Saigon.

Vietnam is quite a large country on southeast Asian standards. It stretches north to South much more than east to west. Consequently, it has different climatic regimes with the north enjoying colder winters while the south is more tropical. Because of its position Vietnam often experiences typhoons originating in the South China Sea to the East.

People and language

Most Vietnamese are ethnic Vietnamese, but there are also significant minorities of Chinese, Thai, Khmer, Cham, Hmong, and mountain people. Vietnamese is the national language, but various other languages are spoken by the ethnic groups mentioned above.

Vietnamese is not an easy language for European language speakers to learn. Like Thai, Laotian, and Chinese it is a tonal language. Words may seem to be written the same way but can mean very different things because of the tone used. Characters similar to Chinese were in use in the early days, but a modified Latin script is now in use. This form of writing was first introduced by French missionaries in the 18th Century.

Culture and religion

Like many other parts of the world, religion is these days less important than it was in the past. Young people are less likely to be influenced by old ideas of culture like Confucianism or the traditional religions that have been introduced into Vietnam over the centuries like Buddhism, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Christianity, and even Islam. The fact that Vietnam was and still is influenced by a more authoritarian form of Communism that tried to stamp out religious practices as well as the march of international influences, rapid urbanization, and the access to the Internet have meant that the old cultural practices are less common today.

Family life

Family is very important still in Vietnam. Extended families often live together in the same building. In the old days, the father was the head of the household, even if female family members had an important economic role to play. Ancestor worship used to be an important cultural practice. This is still the case in more traditional communities. Ancestors are worshipped. Ceremonies revolve around important anniversaries of the death of well-venerated ancestors.

Other cultural attributes often ascribed to the Vietnamese include the reserve they have to strangers and the concept of “face.” Face saving is still an important concept amongst business people and government officials. It is accepted practice not to openly criticize people in front of others. It’s a bit hard to understand what ‘face’ is all about, but when a Vietnamese person loses face, it can be hard on their self-confidence.

Pros and Cons of Online Learning and the Covid-19 Pandemic

Online learning isn’t new. In one form or another, it has been around for some time. For some people, online learning has been the only viable educational option, whereas for others it has been a rational alternative to a classroom or lecture hall environment.

With the arrival of Covid-19, the necessity to shift schools, colleges, and universities over to online learning was almost universal in those countries where the virus hit hard. An effort has been made to ensure that online learning was not actually much different than being in a real classroom.

Was the shutdown of educational facilities really necessary?

In the early days of the pandemic, little was known about the new coronavirus. Its RNA sequence (the basic nucleic acid strand carrying genetic information inside each virus) was decoded quite quickly and the information passed on around the world, but we are still learning about the effects of the virus, how contagious it is, who are the most susceptible to the most serious negative effects of infection, whether immunity is gained after infection and how long immunity might last.

Because of the scramble to understand the new virus, it has meant a large variation in responses. The dilemma is that a good health response invariably negatively affects economic outcomes and vice versa. In most countries, schools, colleges, and universities were closed, physical distancing measures imposed to keep people apart, stay at home restrictions or lockdowns were mandated an international or state or regional borders were shut down.

It was realized by most health authorities that it was important to keep schools, colleges and universities closed until transmission of the virus was suppressed, even though children, and to a lesser extent, young adults, were found to be less affected by the virus, with a higher frequency of asymptomatic conditions. These facilities were still a source of infection as large numbers of people were inevitably forced together in close proximity. There were teachers, lecturers, and other academics, support staff, ancillary workers to consider in addition to the students.

The conclusion is that most countries would say that closing down educational facilities and providing online learning wherever possible was a necessary part of the response to the disease. Parents and educators have been very cautious in those countries where students have resumed conventional learning, although as yet there seems to have been few health repercussions.

What were the lessons learned from all the online learning made available during the pandemic?

The pros

In many countries, online communication, the almost universal access to the Internet, and proficiency amongst educators have meant that online courses were able to be rolled out quite quickly. Obviously some courses are easier to adapt to an online environment than others. Practically oriented courses are harder or near impossible to adapt completely, but even those have at least some element of theory and this can be rolled out online as was the case.

For some students, online learning proved to be a boon. Learning can be individualized more easily, allowing students to slow down or go faster according to aptitude and ability. This is not always possible with conventional learning environments when larger numbers of students are clustered together in one room.

The cons

The most serious disadvantage of the sudden rush to introduce online learning was that it exacerbated socio-economic disadvantage. Not all students had their own laptops. Not all families had access to the Internet or at least were unable to afford the amount of data needed for online learning for everyone in the family. This disadvantage was most obvious in poorer countries, where having a few computers at the local government school might have been a novelty. Take the difference between relatively wealthy Australia, for example where state governments provided laptops to poorer families for free during the lockdown and just about any country in Africa or South Asia where lockdown simply meant that there were no online learning opportunities at all.

In many cases, families may not have been able to keep younger children motivated with online learning at home in the same way that they may have been motivated in normal lessons with their trained teachers. This has been less of an effect on older students.

Back to school for most?

Most countries that have been badly affected by Covid-19 are lifting restrictions and sending students back to studying where they were before. Reverting to near normality has been met with a mixture of trepidation and jubilation. Has the temporary shift to online learning meant that it is an option for the future? Probably, like work at home for some, it is certainly a viable option and certainly cheaper. If anything, the main lesson learned is that if there is a second wave of the disease or, heaven forbid, another pandemic with a new disease, lessons learned from online learning as part of restricting transmission of Covid-19 will certainly be part of the arsenal available to deal with it.

Covid-19 Face Masks: What Medical Experts Say About Their Effectiveness

As countries around the world battle with Sars-cov-2, the novel coronavirus, different strategies have been tried and tested. Most countries have had no experience with dealing with such a contagious virus and there have certainly been quite a few mistakes. Those countries that experienced the SARS epidemic in 2003 reacted quickly using a combination of closing external borders, quarantining, physical distancing, testing, contact tracing, and face masks. This was so successful that in Vietnam, right on China’s doorstep, where the disease first originated, there have been no deaths and the number of cases has been less than 300. Taiwan and Hong Kong, close to China, have also done well, with few deaths and the virus more or less contained. At the other end of the scale, are countries like the U.S. and the U.K. The disease was ignored for too long, and measures that other countries put in place were too little too late. At the time of writing, there have been over 80,000 deaths from Covoid-19 in the U.S and 30,000 in the U.K.

One of the more controversial strategies used in fighting Covid-19 is the use of face masks. In some countries (Singapore, for instance) you can be fined for not wearing a face mask in public. Donald Trump, on the other hand, didn’t think it was important to wear a face mask himself when visiting a face mask factory. So, what’s the truth about their effectiveness?

Not every face mask is the same

Sars-cov-2, the official name for the virus that causes the disease Covid-19, is so small that it can easily pass through the pores in most easily available masks. The cheaper masks are called surgical masks. In a hospital, they may be worn by medical personnel to protect staff and their patients from infection, but are not used when there is a danger of transmission from a highly contagious virus like the coronavirus. When medical staff or carers in a nursing home are issued with personal protective equipment (PPE), they are issued with a better mask, called an N95 mask. This helps to prevent airborne viruses from infecting staff.

N95 masks are generally not available to the public, partly because in many countries they are in short supply and whatever numbers of them that can be procured are always, as a priority, directed to hospitals and other places where they are needed.

Can ordinary surgical masks be effective in preventing transmission of a virus-like Sars-cov-2? The answer seems to be a qualified “yes.” Coronaviruses like Sars-cov-2 are transmitted from person to person on airborne droplets. Most of these are ejected from an infected person when that person coughs or more rarely sneezes. Research has also shown that ‘micro-droplets’ can also transmit viruses for several meters, even when someone who is infected talks. The consensus is that an infected person who wears a surgical mask, i.e. the one type that is easier to purchase, is less likely to transmit the virus to others around them. This is because the mask stops a lot, if not all, droplets that might carry the virus.

The jury is out, however, on whether wearing a surgical mask, or even a home-made mask of any type of material does any good. It may protect others if you are infected but may not help you from being infected if someone else breathes, coughs, or sneezes in your presence.

Wear a mask, but take care with the way you use it

The best advice seems to be to use a face mask if you are going anywhere that could be crowded, like public transport or a supermarket. Be careful about handling the mask, especially the outside of it. Avoid touching the mask, then your face. Use a fresh mask each time you go out, or wash the mask thoroughly with hot water and soap. If you don’t feel well or have any flu-like symptoms, get yourself tested for Covid-19, stay at home, and if you really do need to go out, wear a mask.

Don’t Forget to Translate Your Vaccination Certificates!

Vaccinations are in the news again because of the desperate race to find an effective vaccine for Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, or Sars-cov-2. In reality, new vaccines are always quietly being researched and sought after. It’s not an easy task. There is still no effective vaccine for ebola, HIV (that causes AIDS), the common cold, and several other diseases including malaria. Vaccines for virus-caused diseases are generally harder to develop, especially if they mutate frequently. A vaccine for SARS and MERS, both caused by coronaviruses, was never developed before the diseases rather mysteriously disappeared.

Vaccines have been more successfully found for a variety of other diseases that have been killers in the past. There are vaccines for measles, mumps, cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, TB, typhoid, and rabies, just to mention some of the more common. Smallpox is one of the world’s greatest health victories as the virus was totally eradicated after a long, hard struggle led by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Proof of vaccination may soon become mandatory after Covid-19

Although international travel right at the moment is virtually impossible anywhere in the world, when the world returns to normal again in one, two or more years’ time, proof of vaccination will again become mandatory. Entry into many countries for anything other than a short visit has often meant proving that you were healthy and vaccinated against common diseases. Visits to Africa or South America, where there is still the possibility of contracting yellow fever, usually means that you have a yellow fever vaccination in your home country before travel, translated, of course into several languages depending on where you go next.

You will need vaccine certificate translation

Vaccination certificate translation is a must for many immigration visas. The U.S., for example, insists that all long term visa applicants show evidence of vaccination for things like TB, typhoid, measles, and mumps. Evidence of cholera vaccination may be essential if you have visited a country, or part of a country, where there has been a cholera outbreak.

When a Covid-19 vaccine is eventually developed, and there is a lot of doubt over how long that is going to take, it may become compulsory to show that you have been vaccinated for Covid-19 before being allowed to travel, or at least before you arrive. One of the possible ways that international travel may become possible again is to have an “immunity passport.” This would show that either you have had Covid-19 and have immunity, as proved by an internationally approved test, or have been vaccinated for the disease, so you cannot spread it when you visit another country. 

Of course, this is still way in the future and who knows what is going to happen in the next few months, or even the next year or two, but the possibility of relaxing international travel between countries that have successfully suppressed or eliminated the virus maybe soon a reality. Australians or New Zealanders, for example, may soon have access to each others’ countries. That may be extended to the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia. Even without a vaccine, there may be a way forward using health certificates showing proof of immunity or lack of infection through an up to date test. Because of the danger that border control officers cannot interpret certificates that are not in their own language, there will be an ongoing need for effective health certificate translation. 

The 6 Best Ways to Immigrate to Canada

Canada is one of the safest countries in the world and has numerous employment opportunities.  There are several different ways to immigrate to Canada. From 2019, it was announced that over the coming years Canada has room for 1 million new immigrants.  It is just a matter of following the most suitable route to take advantage of this opportunity so that you can fulfill your dreams and take advantage of immigration opportunities to Canada.

Express Entry

Express entry is a Canadian migration program that helps a skilled worker to migrate to Canada as a permanent resident. It selects candidates based on age, education, language fluency, work experience, and educational level. Express entry allows workers to include family members in the application. It is also called ‘express’ because it only takes up to four months to complete the process in most cases.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

Each of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, not including Quebec, is responsible for its own migration to Canada program. This is known as the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). It permits provinces to respond to individual economic requirements by nominating selected candidates for permanent residency. Often, a PNP seeks out overseas workers who have experience in jobs that are in great demand in their province. For example, Saskatchewan just recently altered its PNP because it wanted to nominate extra computer programmers. As all provinces have different PNP demands if you wish to migrate using this route you should check your eligibility by checking through each province’s website. Citizenship and immigration to Canada are possible if you follow the route that is appropriate for your situation.

Becoming an International Student

International students choose Canada because schools and universities offer quality education at affordable prices and Canadians like international students. Once a course has been successfully completed students may be able to apply for immigration to Canada through the permanent residency program. 

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIP)

The 1917 Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIP) helps to bring additional workers to Canada’s Atlantic districts. The program allows employers in this area to hire international workers from other countries. Once a job offered has been received the worker can come to Canada and begin work.

Migrating for employment with a work permit

There are 2 categories of work permits which are called open work permits and employer work sponsored permits.

You may be eligible for an open work permit if you:

  • are an international student who has graduated from a nominated learning institution and has the eligibility to take part in the Post-Graduation Work Permits Programs;
  • are a student with insufficient money to pay study costs;
  • possess an employer-related work permit and have been subject to abuse at your workplace;
  • applied for Canadian permanent residency; 
  • are a family member who is dependent on somebody who has applied for permanent residency;
  • are the common-law partner or spouse of an international student or skilled worker 
  • are the common-law partner or spouse of an Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program applicant;
  • are a refugee claimant, refugee, a protected person or a family member of one;
  • are under a removal order which is unenforceable; 
  • possess a temporary resident permit;
  • are a younger worker taking part in special programs;
  • in all the above situations additional criteria may apply.

Migrate to Canada with your family

Family immigration to Canada is possible through some of the country’s immigration programs that permit you to bring your family when you immigrate to Canada. You just have to choose your immigration category and include your family in the application.  You may also be able to use Canada’s reunification category for your family especially if you want to bring parents and grandparents to join you. 

The immigration programs such as express entry and business immigration do allow family immigration to Canada. Some of the non-permanent visa programs designated for study or work may allow family members to be included in the application. If the program allows families to be included you should be able to include on your application your spouse or your common-law partner and all your dependent children up to 21 years of age. 

Sometimes, 22-year-olds are allowed as part of a family’s immigration to Canada if their family is their only means of financial support. It is not usual to allow siblings, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins to be part of your family.  Parents and grandparents are entitled to sponsorship through the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program (PGP).  This is in high demand and numbers are restricted. 

Corona Virus Travel Bans

The last meaningful global pandemic was declared for the disease SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003. Despite SARS being declared a pandemic, the disease didn’t spread anywhere near as fast as the present coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19. The spread of the current coronavirus has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) because countries need to put in place action plans designed to reduce the scale and spread of the pandemic. This is so a country’s health service can shoulder the burden of treating people who are experiencing the more serious symptoms of the virus that may mean a spell in a hospital is required. Italy is a lesson to be learned on acting quickly, as their slow response, even in a part of the country that has some of the best health services in the world, cannot effectively assist all those who have come down with the virus.

Purpose of travel bans

One of the most effective ways of handling a crisis like this is imposing travel bans so that medical services only have to deal with a trickle of cases at any one time. It won’t stop the spread completely, but the intention is to slow the transmission rates down so that health services can effectively assist the most vulnerable coronavirus cases as required. The sorts of travel bans that have come in force are air travel to and from the most affected areas which currently still include China as well as South Korea, Italy and Iran.
Due to the lack of transparency on behalf of the Iranian government regarding the serious outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, several passengers off flights from Tehran into Australia and New Zealand brought the virus with them. The United States has a travel ban in force that bans air travel between Europe and the United States for the time being at least. Most countries are monitoring their travel bans on a week by week basis as they know such restrictions are not beneficial for a country’s tourist and business sectors, as well as for anyone in the process of migrating or visiting their families overseas.

Impact on tourism

Tourism itself is a leisure activity, but for operators of tourist activities, it is definitely not a holiday. It’s a business and a livelihood. Every area of the tourist industry has been affected by the current virus, not just by travel bans in force by governments, but even by the reluctance of local tourists to stray too far from home. Today, Flight Centre Australia announced the closure of 100 shop fronts due to a fall in demand for its services. Australia has been confronted with an unprecedented drop in arrivals of international visitors from key countries. The coronavirus outbreak has to lead to record numbers of holiday booking cancellations, with a 36% drop since December.
The key countries which attract the most tourists to Australia are China, the UK, Canada, the USA, Japan, India, and Singapore. From 24th to the 1st March, bookings were down 47% from Britain, 52% from the U.S., 71% from Indonesia, 32% from India and 100% from Japan and China. This is just up to now, but advanced bookings have fallen dramatically as well.
The 1.4 million loss of Chinese tourists affects car rental companies, tour bus companies, domestic airline routes, hotel and motel accommodation, Sydney attractions, the world-famous Gold Coast scenic flights, fishing expeditions, Seaworld, Movie World, Dreamworld and much more. It affects revenues for business operators, some of whom will be temporarily put out of business and employees will no longer have a job and get paid.

Predictions of how long COVID-19 will last

According to an article published by Reuters, Chinese officials are claiming that the restrictions they have placed on travel have meant the coronavirus epidemic has now reached its peak there. Zhong Nanshan, China’s most senior medical adviser, stated at a recent press conference that if other countries follow lead China has taken the pandemic would be completely tamed within a few months. He even went on to say that if all countries adopted the advice issued by the WHO and they intervened quickly into taming the outbreaks in their own countries the pandemic could just about be over by this June. Meanwhile, the center of the outbreak has moved from Asia to Europe, with no sign that it is slowing there or North America.

How to Become a Citizen of Japan

If you have been living in Japan and have been working there or running a business, there may be a point at which you decide that the benefits of becoming a Japanese citizen outweigh any potential disadvantages. You cannot acquire Japanese citizenship purely because you were born in Japan. You must either be born to parents who are Japanese citizens themselves or acquire Japanese citizenship through a process of naturalization. If you want your documents translated when applying for Japanese citizenship you make sure to get it done from a certified translator. This article explains how to apply for Japanese citizenship through the process of naturalization.

Why become a Japanese national?

The main benefit of becoming a Japanese national or citizen is that it ties you more into Japanese society, rather than forever being an outsider. As a Japanese citizen, you are allowed to vote in local or national elections, something which is seen as a duty in Japan. You can also take up positions in public office; even have a tilt at an election to the Diet, Japan’s bicameral Parliament.

There are other benefits of becoming a citizen of Japan. You can freely come and go from Japan without having to confirm your residency status each time you leave. If you work in Japan or run a business there, this level of certainty can make a huge difference to your state of mind and your ability to do your job or plan for the future of your business. It can also help you if you are married to a Japanese citizen as it standardizes your family and means that any children you have should become Japanese citizens automatically. As has been mentioned already, even if you are living and working in Japan if you have children born there they do not automatically acquire citizenship unless you yourself and your partner are Japanese citizens.

Dual citizenship is out

The main disadvantage of becoming a Japanese citizen, for those of you who have retained close links with their country of birth, is that Japan does not allow dual citizenship. If you become a naturalized Japanese citizen, you are expected to renounce your original citizenship.

Criteria for acquiring Japanese nationality

There are some simple criteria for deciding whether you can apply for Japanese citizenship. You need to:

  • have lived in Japan for at least 5 years;
  • be financially ‘independent,’ i.e. earning sufficient income to not be dependent on the state;
  • agree to respect the Japanese Constitution;
  • be of good moral character, i.e. not have had a criminal record, although individual circumstances are usually taken into consideration;
  • be more than 20 years old;
  • agree to renounce your old citizenship.

How to apply for Japanese citizenship

If you think that you fit the criteria detailed above, then it is time to think about applying to become a Japanese citizen. There is quite a lot of bureaucracy involved and all applicants must expect to be patient. It can take up to a full year to have your application approved and there are a lot of documents that must be obtained. It helps, of course, to be able to speak fluent Japanese and be able to read and write Japanese characters. In fact, one of the requirements of the Japanese citizenship application process is that you are expected to write a reason why you want to become a Japanese citizen in Japanese.

Despite the prolonged application process, as an applicant, you can take heart in the fact that 99% of all applications are eventually approved.

Here is a list of documents you should prepare before sending your completed application form off to the relevant authority.

  • application form with 2 attached photos 5 cm x 5 cm;
  • personal resume;
  • details of how you earn a living while in Japan;
  • description of where you live and work or where your business is located;
  • financial statements including tax certificates;
  • educational and professional qualifications;
  • birth certificate;
  • passport entry showing legal status in Japan e.g. work permit or residence
  • permit;
  • details of family members;
  • other documents, if requested.

The process of acquiring citizenship

Once you have completed your application form and have collected all the documents required to accompany it, you need to file it with the Citizenship Division at the Legal Affairs Bureau closest to where you live or work. The officials will check through the application and may ask for further documentation. They may also inspect the place you live or work or your business location to verify that the information you have submitted is indeed correct. You will be then called for an interview, which may take a couple of months into the process.

Assuming that your application is eventually approved, it will be announced through the Official Gazette. You can then go and collect your certificate of naturalization, hand in your alien registration card and complete your family registration. You will have become a Japanese citizen! Omedetou! (おめでとう).

 

 

Things to Know About Your Southeast Asian Customers

South-East Asia is becoming a new emerging target for many international businesses looking to expand. It’s a diverse region, much more so than Europe, North or South America, for example, and it pays to get some sort of handle on who lives in South East Asia and what are the trends that can have an impact on
China, Japan and Lore remain the three big players in the East Asian market, with China now showing signs of stalling somewhat, although much depends on what happens to U.S. trade relations with that giant economy, at present anyone’s guess.
South-East Asia comprises a range of different countries with vastly different histories, socio-economic development, levels of affluence and language. The main common denominator is that they are all showing signs of strong economic growth as they attempt to catch up with the West. It could be said that one of these countries, grouped together in ASEAN, the Association of South-East Asian Nations, has already long surpassed that criterion. Singapore is certainly the smallest and least populated of the ASEAN countries, but by most economic indicators it is easily in the lead with levels of GDP that match the most affluent of OECD countries.
South-East Asia is basically a geographical entity rather than a homogenous block. All South East Asian counties, with the exception of Thailand, have experienced periods of colonialism and post-colonial violence. They also have experienced quite different pre-colonial histories with civilisations recorded as having existed for millennia. Languages are spoken, religions and cultures, types of government, levels of economic development and actual size of landmass and population vary widely, making it genuinely challenging to come to any generalisations about doing business in this part of the world.

The countries that make up South East Asia

South-East Asia borders Bangladesh in the west, China in the North, Japan and Korea in the East and Australia in the South. Indonesia is by far the largest in total landmass and, also, population. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were all French colonies for a while and were all involved in violent upheaval during the fifties, sixties and seventies of the last century. Brunei, Myanmar, Singapore and Malaysia all share a British colonial past but have gone their own post-colonial ways remarkably differently. Thailand shares most with Laos in culture and language, but has remained proudly independent throughout its existence as a nation.
The Philippines, closer to Japan than any other part of South East Asia, has had a colonial background belonging to Spain and the U.S. and with Myanmar and Cambodia is probably one of the poorest of the ASEAN nations, with many Filipinos having migrated right around the world.

SE Asia is a huge market and it’s growing

The combined population of South East Asia is around 655 million, making it the third-largest population after South Asia and East Asia. It is expected that by 2050, SE Asia will be the fourth largest economic block in the world.
Most SE Asian countries are experiencing strong economic growth, with the Lao PDR leading the pack at an annual rate posted of 7%, also matched by Myanmar. The relatively affluent small nations of Singapore and Brunei are sitting at the bottom of the league table at 2.7%and 2% respectively. Note that the GDP of Singapore, despite what seems to be a relatively low growth rate, is 30 times as large as that of Laos, which has the highest growth rate.
The predicted forecast of growth for the whole region averages out at 5.2% for 2020.

The percentage of the population with high consumer demand is growing rapidly

South-East Asian countries do share one phenomenon: their populations are consumer goods hungry, whatever their historical and religious backgrounds. There is a growing middle class who is avid for anything that the rest of the world has. That includes clothes, electronic goods, household items and a desire to travel. 67million households across South East Asia can now be classified as having enough surplus income and assets to enable them to buy things that they do not need for basic survival.

Translation: Data Into Stories and Actions

Most people understand that translation is all about converting one language into another. However, with IT so much a part of everyday living these days, there is a new type of translation around. This involves translating data into stories and action. It’s only an extension of more orthodox translation, except that data is treated as a ‘language’ in its own right.

The point about turning data into stories is that often it’s the only way that the message that the data is storing can be interpreted and remembered by most ordinary people.

It’s not that easy finding good data translators – those people who are sufficiently comfortable with data that they can competently deal with story translation. The one clear message is that the demand for effective data translators is not going to diminish any time soon.

Storytelling has of course been around for as long as humans developed speech. There is something about stories and story-telling which is so much more compelling than studying a bunch of figures, even if the figures are the basis of the story. One study between the power of data alone and data translated into stories has come from subscriptions to a popular charity, “Save the Children.’ Two different brochures were devised. One was full of statistics about child poverty and hunger in Africa. The other told the same story as the data but in words described the tale of a particular African child. The story in words garnered three times as much in subscriptions to ‘Save the Children’ as the data version.

Other evidence for the value of stories over the data that the stories are derived from comes from neuroscientists. They have discovered that interpreting data alone only stimulates two different areas of the brain. These are the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas of the brain. When data is converted into stories and action, the stimulation spreads from the primary parts of the brain to those parts that are stimulated by emotion.

Other studies have shown that while only 5% of people can remember specific statistics expressed in number form, over 60% can remember stories. Apart from the ability to remember things, the other key advantage of translating data into stories and actions is that it makes that data more persuasive, as the charity brochure example above amply demonstrates.

It was back in 200 that Google’s chief economist said that the ability to take raw data and convert it into a story that communicated the information it represented would become an important skill. Only 10 years later, this prediction has become very evident. Companies are desperately trying to recruit talented people with the necessary skills to translate data into the narrative as data has become so much more omnipotent. In fact, data translation has consistently turned up in the top 4 skill categories in all countries analysed by LinkedIn recently.

The Top 8 Challenges for a Japanese Translation

Japanese has been labelled as one of the world’s most difficult languages. This makes it difficult to translate anything accurately by a Japanese NAATI translator.  It has 3 character groups and is not related in any way to other languages. Because of its complexity, Japanese requires full attention to be put into detail in order to ensure an accurately translated text.

The top 8 challenges in a Japanese translation that translators endure when handling translations in the language are as follows:

Kanji is considered to be a complex writing style.

As the main Japanese writing style, it includes characters complex in nature that represent concepts.  Therefore, instead of depending on just phrases and words to bring out the meaning, Kanji relies on a number of different strokes which indicate meaning from the way they are placed within sets of characters. Kanji uses 2,000 characters all the time but there are a few thousand more characters that occasionally are used as well. Because of the high number of characters, it is important that a native Kanji speaker plays the role of a translator when a translation into another language is required.

Cultural nuances create a challenge for a Japanese translation

When undertaking any translation challenge translators need to concentrate on cultural nuances of the language so that accuracy is ensured in the translation and it is in the right context.  Japanese is no exception as the language requires that the translators break up sentences into small pieces so that any cultural nuances are put across so that they sound natural. For example, in Japanese grammar tends to express an air of politeness and formality, which is absolutely essential for any translator to be able to capture in the right way.

Literal translating is not possible in Japanese

Many phrases and words that are utilised in Japanese writing don’t have equivalent words in English, so this makes it hard to translate between Japanese and English with ease. The main challenge is being able to translate something that has some real sense in English but also keeps the best Japanese meaning. Translating any abstract concepts are a particular challenge for even a Japanese translator.

Taco Bell fell foul when it was creating a Japanese website as ‘cheesy chips’ were somehow translated into ‘poor quality chips.’ Also “Crunch wrap Supreme with Beef” was translated as “Supreme Court Beef.” Additionally, the slogan, “We don’t have anything to hide,” ended up being badly translated and read, “What did we bring here in order to hide it.” Taco Bell certainly will not have gone down well with Japanese consumers.

The placing of verbs and subjects are not the same

In Japanese, numerous grammar rules exist that may seem to be not so intuitive as can be found in other languages. This is certainly the case when using verbs and subjects in Japanese when compared with English. In the English language, the subject and verb are typically positioned near the start of a sentence, while in Japanese the verbs are found as part of the ending of a sentence. Also in Japanese, the subjects are commonly understood and are not stated, which basically means that readers need to orientate their understanding of a subject based on the sentences’ context.

Plural nouns cannot be distinguished

Japanese nouns don’t differentiate between the plural and singular forms so translators have to depend on the words’ contexts. So often though there isn’t any way of knowing if a word is supposed to be plural or singular, which means the translation is far harder to achieve accurately.  Also as there are not any obvious plural nouns so the method of counting often changes, even if adjectives and pronouns are used.

The choice of pronouns is not always clear

Choosing a pronoun in English is relatively easy when compared to Japanese. Some expressions fail to offer contextual clues concerning a person’s gender so it is hard to know in a translation which gendered pronoun should be used. For example, if someone appearing in a short story doesn’t seem to have a gender preference, the person could be either a male or a female and it is hard to determine which gender the person is.

Tenses create their own difficulties

In Japanese two tenses exist which are called the non-past and past. When describing either the future or present the non-past would be utilized. This at times can present confusion when translating into English, which possesses 3 quite clear tenses, which are the present, past and future.

A translator must have great subject matter knowledge

Due to the different challenges associated with many Japanese translations, it is important that the translator has expertise in the subject matter to be translated. If the translator does not have exactly the same amount of clear knowledge as the person who is expected to read the translation they won’t know if the document has met the targeted goal. Also, the readers of the translated content will know exactly whether the words used are an accurate representation of the information that is being translated.

2020 will soon be here and that is when the Olympics come to Japan. This is the time when businesses want to be able to make their presence known in Japan. To reach this target it will be essential to get the best translators to do the best job at translating marketing material.  Any slip-ups in a translation could lose the business its credibility in overseas markets.