The Declaration of Independence in Japanese:
Commentary by Tadashi Aruga
The first part of the three representative Japanese translations of the Declaration of Independence, Fukuzawas, Takagis, and Saitos, are retranslated into English by T. Aruga, author of the essay on the Declaration of Independence in Japan, which is published in the March 1999 issue of JAH. Aruga takes full responsibility in any errors and inaccuracies in retranslation. Since this Çóebsite is a work in progress, as Professor David Thelen says, I hope I could complete the retranslation of the three Japanese translations and also correct errors and inadequacies in the future. The retranslator welcomes any comments, questions and criticisms both on my essay and on retranslations in this site (Tadashi Aruga e-mail address: email@example.com)
l Problems Fukuzawa were confronted with in translating the Declaration of Independence are discussed in my essay. My essay also discusses to some extent problems more recent translators have been confronted with.
l The Declaration of Independence uses two words, safety and security. Fukuzawa translated both of them as anzen, so did Saito. Only Takagi used two different words for them.
l Takagi took the liberty of separating the second paragraph into two paragraphs.
l Fukuzawa omitted the names of the signers of the Declaration. At the end of his translation, he wrote: "the signatures of the forty-eight representatives from the thirteen states." The nunber is of course wrong. He did not count the number accurately. Later translators, Takagi and Saito recorded the names of the signers in Japanese hiragana at the end of their translation of the text of the document. Takagi grouped them according to the locations of their signators in the original document without indicating the states they represented. Saito grouped them according to the states they represented.
l The style of literary Japanese has changed greatly during the last 150 years. This change is far more significant than the change in the style of literary English. Fukuzawa used phonetic katakana and Chinese characters. Both Takagi and Saito used phonetic hiragaga and Chinese characters. Takagis translation was written in the style of Japanese prevalent in the 1920s and 1940s, but his style is very much old fashioned. Saitos translation conforms to the style of present-day Japanese. I fear that my retranslation cannot convey to readers such differrences in Japanese style between the thee versions.