Japanese Humor: An Oxymoron



Masami Muramatsu, Simul International, Inc.

Date and Time

January 24, 2000 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Okimoto Conference Room, Encina Hall, East Wing, Third Floor

A pioneering Japanese-English simultaneous interpreter will entertain and enlighten you with the tales of some delightful events where humor has successfully transcended cultural barriers, or some embarrassing ones when the speakers and/or interpreters fell flat on their face. A product of the U.S. occupation of Japan and American tax-payers money later, Muramatsu has served countless international conferences and encounters by any other name, including the first nine G-7 Summit meetings of heads of state and government. (The first, in 1975, at Rambouillet, was G-6; guess who wasn't invited to the dinner.) Meticulously avoiding divulging any state secret or materials for tabloids, he has written essays, books, and given lectures on fascinating episodes that make us laugh and then think the tricks in breaking linguistic and cultural barriers. Born in Tokyo in 1930; worked first as a clerk-typist and then as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Tokyo 1946 through 1955; trained as one of the first eight Japanese simultaneous interpreters by the U.S. State Department, serving some thirty Japanese productivity study teams that toured the U.S. 1956-1960. Tried a new career as an economic researcher with the U.S.-Japan Economic Council in Washington, DC predecessor to the Japan Economic Institute of America). Went back to professional interpreting by returning to Japan in 1965, relinquishing his green card, and established Simul International, Inc., the first professional organization of, by and for interpreters in Japan. After 33 years as its president, then chairman, and also president of the Simul Academy, semi-retired into an advisory, albeit full-time, status in 1998. His clients include Pres. Reagan, Pres. Kennedy, Sen. Kennedy, Professors Milton Friedman, Paul Samuelson, John Kenneth Galbraith, Peter Drucker,Japanese prime ministers from Tanaka to Nakasone, India's Prime Minister Rajif Gandhi, Britain's Prince Charles, Jeffrey Archer, Arthur C. Clarke, Ralph Nader, Betty Friedan, and Yasser Arafat.

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