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I felt somewhat insignificant as I waited in the reception area of a prominent global alternative investment firm. The office was housed in a sizable building situated in a prestigious district of Tokyo. Anticipation and nerves coursed through me as I prepared for this significant meeting; I even rehearsed the proper way to bow. The prospect of meeting a Media Relations Manager felt daunting—such an imposing title! Eventually, she arrived. Glancing at my business card, she inquired, "So, you're a translator specializing in alternative investments. Well, what is alternative investment?"

Alternative investment
a mystery in Japan 


The above is a true story. Documents are often kept from the public eye, textbooks on the subject are scarce, and university programs focusing on private equity—such as INSEAD’s Global Private Equity Initiative—are notably absent in the country. Furthermore, the language barrier exacerbates the issue, hindering widespread understanding.

English is an Achilles' heel of

     Japanese people


As alternative investment is largely an American innovation, a grasp of English is essential to comprehend its intricacies. However, the general level of English proficiency among Japanese people remains inadequate for such comprehension.

The table below illustrates the average English proficiency levels across Asia:

Very high and high


Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore



China, Hong Kong, India, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan

Low and very low


Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal

Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam

Source: EF Education First. In 2019.

So, they are in the dark 


Consequently, Japanese investors often find themselves in the dark, struggling to access information and resources. Even local distributors of overseas fund managers encounter difficulties obtaining relevant information. Complaints abound regarding unanswered queries directed at overseas fund managers, highlighting a lack of client satisfaction.

Why does this matter to you?


Investors are bound to raise questions when performance suffers. Addressing these inquiries promptly can foster goodwill and maintain investor confidence.

Given the challenges Japanese investors face in comprehending English documents, providing Japanese translations for essential materials is advisable. These may include: 

  • Capital call and distribution notices

  • Quarterly updates and fund letters

  • Audited financial statements

While translation fees may increase administrative costs, it demonstrates a commitment to building strong relationships, fostering respect, and retaining investor support.

Sample translation


Click to view more and larger images.

Ensure a stable investor base, inspire loyalty, and encourage further investment by cultivating long-term relationships with Japanese clients. Click to access Meg’s reliable translations of exceptional quality.

"A law firm loved the translation"

Megumi's translation was so good, the end-client, a major Japanese law firm, sent positive feedback.

Lisa Hew, Principal, Belle Translation Japan

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