Injestar holds a top-level market share in the translation and interpretation services industry in Japan.
Injestar aims to become the one and only company in the world that provides multilingual Asian translation services from English.
Executive vice president
Since its establishment in 2002, Injestar Inc. has been growing steadily in the translation & interpretation services business, with experience in over 15 languages including English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, French, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese.
With over 500 translators registered, Injestar offers subtitling, dubbing, and editing services for corporate promotional videos, investor relation videos, and employee training videos, in addition to movies, documentaries, and TV dramas. It also offers text translation services for company brochures, manuals, contracts, project proposals, websites, etc.
In recent years, Injestar has been expending effort in the exporting of Japanese content, a business that is being promoted by the Japanese government. The company offers subtitling and dubbing services to broadcast Japanese travel shows, animation, dramas, and movies overseas in English, Spanish, Russian, and so on.
Dubbing is produced at studios in the region where the languages are spoken to obtain a higher quality. Even if there are no partner studios in the region, Injestar spares no effort in meeting the client’s needs. For example, Injestar opened a new studio in Cambodia to provide dubbing services in Khmer.
The company’s interpretation department dispatches interpreters to sporting events, international conferences, exhibitions, business talks, and other such venues. More recently, Injestar has expanded into providing multilingual staff to major airports across Japan. They work not only as interpreters but also as sales associates at duty-free shops, and their contributions to sales increases are highly evaluated by their clients.
Now, Injestar is aiming to expand into the field of localization of English content, in order to meet the current growing demand for localization. Mr. Kei (Kyongho) Kwon, the executive vice president of Injestar, who founded and has grown the company with the president, Mr. Hichang Oh, is certain that there are great business opportunities in this field based on watching the recent trends.
In 2016, Mr. Kwon received two visits from a company in the same industry, who provided European localization services for Hollywood films. It was a major company whose sales were dozens of times bigger than those of Injestar. Mr. Kwon wondered why such a big player was interested in his company. Upon research, he found that while many companies translate English films into European languages, very few provide one-stop translation services into Asian languages.
“Take Netflix, a leading media streaming service provider from America, for example. If you look at its quarterly reports, you’ll see that its overseas membership passed its membership in the States in June, 2017. One year later, the gap widened even further; its overseas membership reached 72 million, while its membership in the States was 57 million. The international market is clearly growing rapidly, as is the demand for localization in the languages of these regions.
It is much more beneficial and convenient for clients to partnership with a company that can provide one-stop translation services into multiple languages than to look for a translation company in each region. But very few Asian companies can provide such a service. On the other hand, Injestar has the experience to meet the growing needs.”
Injestar has experience in multilingual translation, and has already established networks of quality voice artists and other staff in many Asian countries. Injestar is continually improving its production system in order to increase its market value as a company that can provide one-stop translation services into multiple Asian languages.
Mr. Kwon is a Korean who was born and raised in Japan. He and Mr. Oh grew up together. Mr. Kwon used to work as a CPA in Chicago, U.S.A. During an extended business trip to Japan in 1997, he reached a turning point in his life.
At the time, more and more Korean companies were entering into the Japanese stock markets, and their prospectuses and financial statements needed to be translated from Korean to Japanese to disclose to investors.
“Upon my return to Japan, I had the impression that it was much more globalized than it used to be. There were already many companies that offered translation services between English and Japanese, but now there was a demand for Korean translation. I intuitively knew this was a heaven-sent opportunity.”
Mr. Kwon had many friends who spoke both Korean and Japanese fluently, including Mr. Oh. However, they didn’t have many opportunities to utilize these skills. Earnestly hoping to create opportunities for bilingual people to contribute to society in unprecedented ways, Mr. Kwon founded Injestar with six other people, including Mr. Oh, in 2002.
At first, Injestar mainly dealt with East Asian languages such as Korean, Japanese and Chinese, but gradually expanded its business to include other languages such as English. The company’s growth was boosted by the World Cup cohosted by Korea and Japan, and the “Korean Wave” that stormed Japan.
Subtitling and dubbing has been the company’s strength since its establishment, Injestar provides subtitling and dubbing for major TV stations in Korea and China, and holds a top-level market share in the industry.
Mr. Kwon says that at the core the company’s growth is its corporate philosophy, “To eliminate all barriers to communication.”
“As a Korean born and raised in Japan, I can see the world as both a Japanese and a Korean. I realize that an inability to communicate well causes misunderstanding and distrust, which can even lead to hatred or conflicts. For example, when we translate Korean TV shows into Japanese, the purpose behind our subtitling and dubbing services is to remove Japanese people’s barriers to understanding the original content of the Korean shows. Most obstacles to communication come from differences in languages and cultures. I believe that it is our mission to help people overcome these differences.”
Guided by this corporate philosophy, Injestar’s business goes beyond “language translation.”
It also provides closed captions, for instance. The demand for closed captions on Japanese news and variety shows for hearing-impaired and elderly people has been increasing. While the company’s main focus is helping people with different languages and cultures understand each other, removing the disability caused by hearing problems through closed captioning falls within its mission as well.
“We’re partnering with an organization that provides support for single mothers, to offer opportunities to work at home producing closed captions. We believe that this is a good opportunity for single moms, who have to support their family but cannot afford to take time away from their children. Not many people know about closed captioning jobs yet, so the staff of the organization was happy to hear about it. It’s a job that many people can do, as long as they have a good command of Japanese. Even those who have difficulty finding jobs due to physical impairments, or those live on a remote island or a depopulated area, can be involved in this job.”
Injestar’s management philosophy is to contribute to multicultural communication and understanding and to create opportunities for people from different languages and cultures to work together and grow together. Injestar has staff from several countries, including Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia, Canada, Bulgaria, and Germany. They do not require disclosure of nationality at their job interviews, as what you can do has little to do with where you come from.
The company also encourages its staff to acquire extra skills in order to make better use of what they already excel at. For example, it provides sales training to its staff working at airport duty-free shops, so they can use their existing multilingual skills more effectively in a sales setting.
“We don’t want our staff to just interpret as they sell perfume. We expect all of our staff members to be motivated, and build their careers in the long-term. Thinking through this and growing with our staff is our raison d’etre .”
Thanks to its employee education and training, many of Injestar’s interpreters are successful as sales associates, as well. They proactively promote newly released products and boost sales and profits.
The company has received a lot of good feedback from its clients about the staff’s contribution to sales. Injestar currently has over 400 staff working regularly at four airports within Japan.
Mr. Kwon takes pride in building a corporate culture where diversity is valued, and staff members respect each other’s differences when they work together.
“Every one of our staff members must be treated equally regardless of sex, nationality, or skin color. This is what binds us together and makes our company strong. I’m sure all of the staff members share this corporate value and are committed to maintaining it.”
Vice president Kwon chose words carefully and politely as he answered my questions. His gentlemanly demeanor showed how much he respects people and their diversity. While achieving growth and bringing great success to the company, he has never forgotten or stopped caring about minorities. As I listened to him, I was convinced of his belief. “If people can communicate with each other better, we may have have an ideal, peaceful world.”
Interviewing and editing/Yuko Mitsumoto
Kei (Kyongho) Kwon was born in Tokyo. After being educated in Japan, he studied at university in the United States of America. He earned a master’s degree at the State University of New York. He got a job at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago. After being transferred to the office in Tokyo, he made partner in the transaction department (M&A). In 2002 he founded Injestar Inc. with his childhood friend, President Oh, and works there to the present day.