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How Remote Interpreting Changed the Japanese Interpreting Industry: Findings from an online survey conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic


It is widely known in the interpreting industry that the COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for the global spread of remote interpreting, the technology for which had existed for years prior. As governments and businesses continued to hold their meetings online or in hybrid forms even after lockdowns were lifted, demand kept rising (Nimdzi Insights, 2022). In order to investigate the immediate impact of the pandemic on remote interpreting, an online survey with a focus on remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) was conducted in the summer of 2020 in Japan (Matsushita, 2020b). The results revealed that while only 18.8% (n = 43) of the 229 respondents had RSI experience before the pandemic, the number jumped to 44.5% (n = 102) by the end of July 2020, with 91.7% (n = 210) of them envisioning that remote interpreting opportunities will continue to increase.

This prediction turned out to be true: a smaller survey conducted in Japan 17 months later in January 2022 revealed that all 51 respondents (100%) had experienced remote interpreting, with 58.8% (n = 30) saying that almost all of their assignments (at the time of the survey) were taking place remotely (Ikaros Publications, 2022). This trend is, of course, not limited to Japan. Numerous industry reports published in 2021 and 2022 showed a shared conviction that remote interpreting is here to stay (e.g., Association of Language Companies, 2021; Nimdzi Insights, 2022; Slator, 2022).

Against this backdrop, this study conducted a detailed analysis of the survey responses from Matsushita (2020b) to reinvestigate the transformation the interpreters experienced during the most turbulent months of the pandemic and find insights into remote interpreting in the post-pandemic world. Compared to Matsushita (2020b), which reported the aggregated survey results, this study will focus more on differences among the interpreters, language pairs, and interpreting genres represented.


remote simultaneous interperting (RSI), interpreting industry, interpreter survey, Japanese, COVID-19



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