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News & Events
2018.11.21 Automatic translation for the Tokyo Olympic Games
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is planning to introduce full automatic translation to administrative agencies as well. Automatic translation application "VoiceTra" was developed by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. In the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games foreign tourists are expected to increase and so it is expected that the application will be used by many institutions such as police and immigration control.

The application supports 14 audio inputs and outputs such as Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean and others, meaning the application can support up to 31 languages including those which are text input. it heavily supports Asian languages and can translate into each language without prior English translations, thus creating a more accurate final translation. In addition, since the translation is also displayed at the same time as the original language of the translated sentence, it is easy to identify any mistranslations.

Automatic translation systems have been in existence for around 30 years now. The initial version developed in 2010 provided poor outputs for multiple words and it also took a long time to output translations. However due to the progress in AI development over the last few years, translation accuracy has since improved. The current translation ability is about the same level as those who acquire 900 points by TOEIC.

Already 3 million downloads of the free application have already been completed. For private enterprises, the system is offered for a fee, and it is used for services such as firefighting, emergency services, the railways and taxi companies etc. However, it is necessary to send voice data to the external server when using it, so it has not been introduced to administrative organs so far due to security issues.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications plan to set up a dedicated server next fiscal year for use by special administrative agencies. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology seems to be preparing to adopt "VoiceTra" for communication with returnee children and foreign students at the school education institutions.

For details, please visit the following website.
 
https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASLC253YPLC2UTFK01C.html

http://voicetra.nict.go.jp/

https://www.nict.go.jp/press/2018/10/18-1.html

https://www.gov-online.go.jp/eng/publicity/book/hlj/html/201805/201805_09_jp.html