Justice Ministry Starts Having AI Translate Laws on Trial Basis; Hoping to Cut Translation Time in Half

The Justice Ministry
Yomiuri Shimbun file photo

Toshiba Digital Solutions Corp., a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp., has announced that it has begun trials of using an artificial intelligence system it developed to translate laws and regulations into English for the Justice Ministry.

The system will take care of drafting translations of laws that are currently done by ministry employees. The technology is expected to cut back on the time to complete the project from the current 2½ years to around one year.

Currently, translations drafted by the workers are checked by the ministry and lawyers specializing in foreign laws. However, the translations vary depending on the individuals working on them, and these people work on the tasks in parallel with their routine job, resulting in translations taking extra time to be completed.

Japanese laws and regulations contain complicated explanatory remarks and modifications on top of often having missing subjects. Those points are a big challenge for AI translation.

There are about 9,000 laws, government ordinances and ministerial ordinances, with only around 900 of them having been published in English thus far.

Meanwhile, a growing number of foreigners have started investing in Japanese companies and real estate, meaning that the demand for checking Japanese laws in English has been increasing.

The company will continue to confirm the accuracy of its AI translations before starting full-fledged operations at all ministries and agencies in April 2024.