Book reviewVoices of the Invisible Presence. Diplomatic interpreters in post-World War II Japan Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2009. x + 197 pp. ISBN 978-90-272-2427-9 85 €, 128 USD (Benjamins Translation Library, 83). .
Reviewed by Daniel Gile
The book is the published version of Torikai’s doctoral dissertation Diplomatic Interpreters in Post-War II Japan: Voices of the Invisible Presence in Foreign Relations, defended at the University of Southampton in 2006. Torikai worked for 20 years as a conference interpreter and is now a professor at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, specializing in intercultural communication. She describes the aim of the study as “foreground[ing] the life of past [Japanese] interpreters involved in international relations”, and chose oral history as her methodological approach, more specifically interviews with five pioneer interpreters. Her primary questions in the study were: who became interpreters in post WW II Japan, why and how, how they perceived their role as interpreters and what role they actually played in Japan’s foreign relations. “By pursuing these questions, the study ultimately seeks to illuminate the role of interpreters in intercultural communicative events” (p. 7).