EVENT REPORT: A Nostalgic and Productive 31st IJET

Marian Kinoshita

On June 24 and 25, the Japan Association of Translators (JAT) hosted its first International Japanese-English Translation Conference (IJET) since 2019. The event was held at Tokyo Big Sight and welcomed some 230 translators and interpreters from all over the world. With nearly all sessions focused on the conference theme, “On Stage or Backstage—翻訳通訳の可視性,” participants discovered myriad ways to shine just the right amount of light on translation and interpretation as well as on us as highly skilled professionals. 

The event was kicked off by keynote speaker Junko Bradley, who encouraged us to create a professional “icon” or name for ourselves with a sustainable web presence through frequent blogs, a unique website, and even mutually tagging clients. Never forget the ripple effect, as the little things you do to promote yourself and help your client have a gradual and expanding impact. 

The weekend was filled with entertaining and educational sessions, with three or four talks or workshops underway at any one time. The wide-ranging topics included something for everyone: self-promotion and branding, finding/delving into/establishing your niche, staying healthy despite long hours at your desk, AI/ChatGPT/MT . . . how to use them and remain a human translator/interpreter, prepping for the ATA Certification, charming stories by an “accidental interpreter” growing up in Yokohama, pharma/legal/medical topics, retirement, and publishing.

A new twist to the event was the use of Whova, which we all downloaded just a day or two ahead of the activities. I was leery about growing comfortable with a new app (I am a bit of a dinosaur), but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I could create my own schedule by selecting specific sessions that appealed to me, directly message other participants within the app, share photos with the entire group, and pose questions to the organizers in a public thread so all participants could benefit from the responses. It involved far less paper, chalking up a tiny but nice contribution to the environment. 

Of course, the opportunity to get together with all my favorite colleagues after three years of online communications and meet new (and many young) members of the translation and interpreting community was the most valuable part of the experience.

I leave you with one quote from Jim Rion’s niche- and brand-building session: 

“Every step in your career is yours to take.” Regardless of age, career stage, or AI-related worries, each of us can make a path for ourselves, and every little step counts.

© 2023 Written for the SWET website by Marian Kinoshita