Multilingualization of Product Information for Foreign Visitors Will Be Accelerated Full-fledged Efforts Commence toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
The Council for the Collaboration between the Manufacturing, Distribution and Sales Sectors has developed a data pool to accumulate translated product information and a smartphone application to indicate product information in multiple languages using said data pool with the aim of preparing an environment where foreign visitors and residents can enjoy shopping in Japan with peace of mind.
The Council aims to register information on products of 500 or more companies by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
1. The Council for the Collaboration between the Manufacturing, Distribution and Sales Sectors
The Council was established in May 2011 for the purpose of eliminating inefficient operations from the entire supply chain and establishing a system which creates new value through the collaboration of the manufacturing, intermediate distribution/wholesale (distribution), and retail (sales) sectors, thereby enhancing industrial competitiveness and contributing to the prosperity of the public.*
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has been supporting the efforts of the Council since its establishment.
* As of March 28, 2017, 53 enterprises participate in the Council.
2. Outline of the efforts
- In July 2016, some member enterprises voluntarily established the Multilingual Product Information Feasibility Study Project in order to respond to increasing inbound demand.
- The developed data pool (multilingual product information data pool) is a repository to accumulate accurate product information in multiple languages. At present, approximately 176,000 pieces of text information and 135,000 pieces of image information on products have been accumulated through the use of existing databases of respective industries and with cooperation of Council member enterprises. This is the first cross-industrial data pool in Japan wherein manufacturing companies** responsibly register information on their products.
- The Council has also developed a smartphone application (for multilingualization) using this data pool. Through the use of this application, a product category is indicated in multiple languages (in English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, and Korean) when a user scans the barcode of a product with his/her smartphone. A user who needs more detailed information can access the linked manufacturing company's page which will introduce the relevant product in multiple languages.
** Including wholesalers and retailers that manufacture their own private brand items
3. Future challenges
- It is necessary to further promote multilingualization of product information and enhance the data pool in order to develop a better environment for foreign visitors to enjoy shopping in Japan without worry. Instead of leaving each company to independently promote multilingualization through different formats and methods, efforts should be made uniformly and efficiently using common means and methods.
- The Council aims to register information on products of 500 or more companies by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
- It is expected that the data pool will be further enhanced and widely utilized in various services, not limited to the developed application for multilingualization.
Example of application usage
* When a manufacturing company's website contains detailed product information in multiple languages, the screen automatically moves to the relevant website.
March 28, 2017
Division in Charge
Distribution and Logistics Policy Division, Distribution and Industrial Safety Policy Group, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau