Alleged Japanese translation scam revealed

There has been a dramatic increase in the submission of questionable CVs to many organisations in the translation industry, writes Kaori Myatt, CEO of Japanese language specialists Word Connection based in Biarritz, France. 
  • At Word Connection, we have seen a surprisingly large number of CVs from applicants claiming similar or identical work experience. This has prompted us to conduct our own investigation into the matter. We believe that we have uncovered at least one of the reasons behind the high incidence of under-qualified Japanese translators who are currently seeking work.

Translation qualifications and professionals in Japan

Few universities in Japan offer courses in translation, so professional qualifications in Japanese translation are rare. The majority of professional translators learn their trade by working for translation agencies in Japan or by acquiring their skills, over time, as freelancers. As a result, a sudden increase in the number of proficient translators, would be impossible.

Online Japanese translation course

We have now discovered the existence of an online course which is being promoted as a quick and easy route to gaining translation work. It is run by Masanori Asano, a freelancer who has turned his hand to the more lucrative endeavour of training fledgling translators. He is advising subscribers how to create effective CVs which overstate their experience and ability. His approach includes actively encouraging students to feature false employment histories and suggesting that they use his own CV as a template.

It was equally disturbing to discover that this operator is also promoting the use of machine translation and is providing advice on how to successfully negotiate the tests set by translation agencies. 

The course is aggressively marketed with advertisements claiming that anyone can make big money from translation work. The misleading messages include assertions that no qualifications are required, that it is possible to earn as much as €100,000 in the first year and that no English language skills are necessary.

The fee for the course is €3,000 and, to date, more than 1,100 students have signed up. A supplementary course is also being offered for €2,000 to those who have completed the standard course. Students are encouraged to share the content of any tests they have completed in order to help others to pass them.

We have managed to identify an ex-student who has provided us with a list of translation companies whose test information has been shared.

Testing a new applicant

We recently received an approach from an individual seeking translation work. We asked him to take our medical translation test which he passed. However, having supplied him with a few projects to work on, we were forced to conclude that his grasp of the English language was limited. The work he completed for us resulted in complaints from our clients.

Screening CVs

We are now carefully examining all CVs for suspicious content and will not consider applications stating the following experience:

– Dell Products Introduction HP for Tablets
– Manual of Roaming Wireless LAN Cards
– Caterpillar manual (pressure sensor for engine tests)
– Ozone generator
– Sony CMOS
– Sony Bottom gate and bottom contact type organic thin film transistor
– IBM Negative type resist for semiconductor fabrication
– IBM Positive type resist for semiconductor fabrication
– IBM Method of transferring electronic coin among a plurality of user terminals
– hp MEMS device
– Texas Instruments Electrostatic discharge protection device for semiconductor
– APPLE User interface for digital assistant system
– APPLE User interface for digital assistant system
– APPLE High volumetric energy density lithium-ion battery
– APPLE Multiport antenna with resonating slot
– APPLE Liquid crystal displays with reduced light leakage
– APPLE Reducing network service scan time by a wireless communication device
– Amazon Method of ordering items using the client server system
– Xerox Method of supporting electronic payment using electrical money tokens
– Motorola Reducing interference in a radio network environment
– Brunswick Trolling motor using sonar transducers
– Caterpillar Common rail fuel injection system
– Caterpillar Calibration control system for gensets
– Caterpillar Power meter correction system
– Cummins Solenoid operation flow rate control valve
– Umicore Exhaust aftertreatment system using three-way catalysts
– P&G Silicone elastomer emulsion composition for cosmetics
– 3M Fluoropolymer composition for bonding a substrate
– Varian Real time gas chromatography for gas detection
– NUTRASWEET Synthesis and purification of 3,3 – dimethyl-butyraldehyde for sweetener
– Ono & Co., Ltd Soft blood vessel model for surgery simulation

The CVs created by students who have subscribed to the online course run by Asano tend to be similar. They feature a format which includes blue boxes and they itemise lengthy lists of dictionaries which the applicants claim to use. 

The risks posed by fraudulent applications

Any organisation could be approached by students of the online course. However, these people appear to be focusing on overseas agencies which are not ISO 17100 certified, as they are perceived to be easy targets. Students have already been successful in registering CVs via the automated enrolment pages of a number of websites.

It is vital for recruiters to screen applications from freelancers carefully to identify fraudulent CVs which feature the previously mentioned experience and/or the template with blue boxes. It might be prudent to check any freelancers which are already registered as they may have disclosed test information or infringed their NDAs.

Since making our discoveries, we have contacted Mr. Asano and demanded that he desist from instructing students to include fabricated work experience in their CVs. He has apologized and claims that he will no longer do this. However, it isn’t clear whether he ever had permission from his clients to use or mention his own work in the course materials and to share this with students. We have questioned him in this regard but have not received an answer.

Translation agencies should check that their freelancers have not mentioned the work experience listed above on their CVs or applications. If they have, their ability should be re-tested before they are provided with further projects to work on. The possibility remains that freelancers and Mr. Asano have shared the details of projects other than I have listed and that NDAs have been broken. It is more important than ever to retain signed NDAs.


A highly motivated but, in my view, unscrupulous freelancer has clearly capitalised on a lucrative opportunity.  The translation industry relies heavily on both freelancers and digital communication. This enables applicants to remain in the shadows, hiding behind CVs which include exaggerated or false information. 

The aggressive marketing of an online translation course has encouraged the belief that translation work is easy to obtain and that significant incomes can be achieved by those with little or no experience. Meanwhile, the sharing of information is helping students to pass initial testing procedures.