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株式会社

English translation: Inc. or Ltd or. K.K.

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Japanese term or phrase:株式会社
English translation:Inc. or Ltd or. K.K.
Entered by: Eden Brandeis
Options:
- Contribute to this entry
- Include in personal glossary

01:48 May 15, 2002
Japanese to English translations [PRO]
Bus/Financial
Japanese term or phrase: 株式会社
We all know that:
"株式会社" == "Corporation" or "Inc."
in American English.

However, in reading translations of Japanese business reports, I have seen it translated alternately as "Co., Ltd." and as "Inc."

Also, in the original Japanese we sometimes see "X株式会社" while at other times we see "株式会社Y"

Is there a set of definitive rules for these titles posted somewhere? Is this just one of those personal preference things?

The particular case that is bugging me in a project I am working on has (paraphrased):

"X株式会社はY株式会社となります"

translated as:

"X Co., Ltd. will become Y Inc."

The only logical reason I can think of for the original translator to do this would be to differentiate between the old and new companies. However, it isn't entirely clear to me that the translator preserved the original meaning. I would have use "Co., Ltd." or "Inc." exclusively and not switched between them.

I will award points to the person who can provide references and/or explain clearly the following:

1. Does it matter if 株式会社 comes before or after the company name? Does this effect the meaning in any way?

2. Is there a precedence for changing from "X Co., Ltd." to "X Inc." in the same document? Does this emphasis a change from a British system to an American system?
Eden Brandeis
Local time: 21:54
Co. Ltd., Inc., Corp., KK
Explanation:
Company names are proper nouns. How a company wishes its name to appear in English is entirely up to the company. There is no rule for translating 株式会社. When translating a company name, you should confirm the English name with the company itself or with a reputable source. If you cannot confirm it this way, you should put it in brackets to show that the proper name has not been confirmed, just as you would with an individual. It is entirely possible that "X株式会社はY株式会社となります" translated as: "X Co., Ltd. will become Y Inc." is correct. However, the changing of the subsidiary names, as mentioned in your follow up note, seems a bit strange. But there is no way of knowing whether the changes from Co. Ltd. to Inc. were deliberate or sloppy translating without contacting the company. My guess would be the latter.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-15 23:08:41 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

For example these are all OFFICIAL company names (registered with Japanese financial authorities like TSE & FSA):
本田技研工業株式会社=Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
トヨタ自動車株式会社=Toyota Motor Corp.
日産自動車株式会社 =Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
マツダ株式会社=Mazda Motor Corp.
いすゞ自動車株式会社=Isuzu Motors Ltd.
キヤノン株式会社=Canon Inc.
very few publicly traded Japanese companies use ¥"K.K.¥" in their official English names. Here is one example:
電気化学工業株式会社=Denki Kagaku Kogyo KK

Once again, in response to the original question, there is no definitive source of rules for translating company names. It is wholly up to the company.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-15 23:10:07 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

For example these are all OFFICIAL company names (registered with Japanese financial authorities like TSE & FSA):
本田技研工業株式会社=Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
トヨタ自動車株式会社=Toyota Motor Corp.
日産自動車株式会社 =Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
マツダ株式会社=Mazda Motor Corp.
いすゞ自動車株式会社=Isuzu Motors Ltd.
キヤノン株式会社=Canon Inc.
very few publicly traded Japanese companies use ¥"K.K.¥" in their official English names. Here is one example:
電気化学工業株式会社=Denki Kagaku Kogyo KK

Once again, in response to the original question, there is no definitive source of rules for translating company names. It is wholly up to the company.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-16 15:19:58 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Most of the companies I listed are traded on the NYSE. In addition to using these English names in OFFICIAL filings such as 有価証券報告書, they also use the English names that I have shown above in their financial documents filed with the NYSE and the U.S. SEC. Therefore, it is hard to imagine how anyone could argue that these are ¥"nicknames.¥" It would be a serious error for a translator to write ¥"Canon KK¥" or ¥"Honda Motor KK.¥"

Personally, I think that it would have been better if Japanese companies had adopted the convention of using KK in the English language versions of their names. This would make Japanese companies clearly recognizable--such as GmbH for German companies. However, they have not chosen to do so, and to the best of my knowledge no Japanese authority has ever drawn up any sort of rule saying how 株式会社 must be translated into English. If Mr. Hamo could cite some such specific regulation or legislation, I would be happy to concede the point.
Selected response from:

Marceline
United States
Local time: 21:54
Grading comment
Thank you everyone for your input. My research, along with the views posted here and elsewhere support the idea that asking the company or agency you are working for is the only way to go when there are conflicting translations for the company name.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +3K.K.
R. A. Stegemann
5 +2Co. Ltd., Inc., Corp., KKMarceline
4Why don't you ask your client directly...
Kaori Myatt


Discussion entries: 4





  

Answers


51 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
K.K.


Explanation:
For the Japanese-side of things I suggest you browse the TSE at

http://www.tse.or.jp/

and use that as your guide.

For the English-side of things my experience in the international financial community in Tokyo has taught me to write:

株式会社 (Kabushiki Kaisha) as K.K.
Limited as Ltd.
Aktiengesellschaft as A.G.
Incorporated as Inc.
etc.

In other words use the abbreviation associated with the legal system in which the company is formally registered as a legal entity.

I have never come across a case where corporation did not mean incorporated. Notwithstanding, the word 'corporation' sometimes forms a part of a company's official name, whereas the term 'incorporated' is only a legal designation placed after the official name.

Inc., A.G., K.K., etc. can be treated very much the same way as name titles like Ms. Ph.D., and Esq. They are unnecessary, but useful and informative designations.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-15 02:44:06 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

In answer to your second question about the changeover from ¥'X Co., Inc.¥' to ¥'X Ltd.¥' Yes, it appears that the company changed its legal domicile from the U.S. to the U.K. or some other Commonwealth country -- maybe an offshore tax-haven like Bermuda....

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-15 02:47:16 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Also, ¥'X Co., Ltd.¥' and ¥'X Ltd.¥' are likely two different companies. The first being an incorporated company named ¥'X Company¥', the second an incorporated company called ¥'X¥'. The correct abbreviation for ¥'Corporation¥' is ¥'Corp.¥' -- not Co.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-15 02:52:35 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Finally, the terms K.K., Ltd., Inc., etc. always appear after the company¥'s name -- never before!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-15 06:37:38 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Note to EDEN:

It is possible that the company underwent a name change after it was reorganized. Notwithstanding, if it is a Japanese company whose legal domicile is Japan, the term ¥'Ltd.¥' should not be employed. K.K. simply does not translate into Ltd. or Inc. according to national preference.

If it truly is a K.K., then there is a good possibility that it is listed on one of Japan¥'s stock exchanges -- say the Osaka or Tokyo exchanges. There is also an exchange called Mothers in Tokyo; it is dedicated to new venture companies.

Once again, some companies prefer having the word ¥'Company¥' or ¥'Corporation¥' included as a part of their formal name. A corporation is an incorporated company. All companies are not incorporated.

Of course, so long as the company remains in Japan and is not listed on one of Japan¥'s international exchanges, it is probably within the law to assign itself whatever English name it pleases.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-15 23:23:39 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

NOTE to Marceline:

I too have a registered Japanese name, but it is inevitably accompanied by the name which is written on my passport, and it is not recognized outside of Japan even by Japanese embassies!

As I stated earlier Japanese companies can probably call themselves whatever they want in English provided that their English name is used only in Japan. What they call themselves outside of Japan or in a Japanese court of law is a very different matter.

Showing a list of English names used by listed Japanese companies on Japanese stock exchanages can only demonstrate your ignorance of the binding legal reality which underlies their commerical nomenclature.

You are quite naive to believe that it is not a matter of advertising or simply ignorance on the part of Japanese company about their choice of English names.











R. A. Stegemann
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 13:54
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 153

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Shinya Ono: Clear and admirable
2 hrs
  -> Such praise, such praise, such praise...

agree  Indojin: Though you are right, but I think, what Eden is looking for is a much deeper explanation, rather than this overview.
3 hrs
  -> How much deeper can I go? A legal definition is not likely to help here, is it? In any case thanks for your support?

agree  Rachel Burney: It's not as cut-and-dried as Eden seems to want. A company big enough to need this type of translation will generally be listed on the stock exchage, which is where their official English name can be found. The name is a matter of company preference.
12 hrs
  -> Probably much of Eden's problem has to do with the confusion created by the other translator. Now he must refer back and sort things out. I am not envious of his position. Thanks for your support, by the way.

disagree  Marceline: See my note below. Company names are proper nouns and should be written however the company in question chooses. In some cases (listed companies) these English names are formally registered--translators should take care to get them right.
14 hrs
  -> Yes, just as you can place whatever title you want before or after your name until someone tells you to stop!

agree  Ad Timmering: Obviously an interesting dilemma. My standpoint would be, as long as you don't translate for the company concerned you should just translate kabushikigaisha as K.K. If you do translate for THEM (i.e. promotion material), ask what they want to be called.
21 hrs
  -> Yes, educate them first, and then do as they say. In most cases your name will not appear as the translator, anyway. As a result you cannot be held responsible. Thanks for your support.
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

14 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
Co. Ltd., Inc., Corp., KK


Explanation:
Company names are proper nouns. How a company wishes its name to appear in English is entirely up to the company. There is no rule for translating 株式会社. When translating a company name, you should confirm the English name with the company itself or with a reputable source. If you cannot confirm it this way, you should put it in brackets to show that the proper name has not been confirmed, just as you would with an individual. It is entirely possible that "X株式会社はY株式会社となります" translated as: "X Co., Ltd. will become Y Inc." is correct. However, the changing of the subsidiary names, as mentioned in your follow up note, seems a bit strange. But there is no way of knowing whether the changes from Co. Ltd. to Inc. were deliberate or sloppy translating without contacting the company. My guess would be the latter.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-15 23:08:41 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

For example these are all OFFICIAL company names (registered with Japanese financial authorities like TSE & FSA):
本田技研工業株式会社=Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
トヨタ自動車株式会社=Toyota Motor Corp.
日産自動車株式会社 =Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
マツダ株式会社=Mazda Motor Corp.
いすゞ自動車株式会社=Isuzu Motors Ltd.
キヤノン株式会社=Canon Inc.
very few publicly traded Japanese companies use ¥"K.K.¥" in their official English names. Here is one example:
電気化学工業株式会社=Denki Kagaku Kogyo KK

Once again, in response to the original question, there is no definitive source of rules for translating company names. It is wholly up to the company.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-15 23:10:07 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

For example these are all OFFICIAL company names (registered with Japanese financial authorities like TSE & FSA):
本田技研工業株式会社=Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
トヨタ自動車株式会社=Toyota Motor Corp.
日産自動車株式会社 =Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
マツダ株式会社=Mazda Motor Corp.
いすゞ自動車株式会社=Isuzu Motors Ltd.
キヤノン株式会社=Canon Inc.
very few publicly traded Japanese companies use ¥"K.K.¥" in their official English names. Here is one example:
電気化学工業株式会社=Denki Kagaku Kogyo KK

Once again, in response to the original question, there is no definitive source of rules for translating company names. It is wholly up to the company.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-05-16 15:19:58 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Most of the companies I listed are traded on the NYSE. In addition to using these English names in OFFICIAL filings such as 有価証券報告書, they also use the English names that I have shown above in their financial documents filed with the NYSE and the U.S. SEC. Therefore, it is hard to imagine how anyone could argue that these are ¥"nicknames.¥" It would be a serious error for a translator to write ¥"Canon KK¥" or ¥"Honda Motor KK.¥"

Personally, I think that it would have been better if Japanese companies had adopted the convention of using KK in the English language versions of their names. This would make Japanese companies clearly recognizable--such as GmbH for German companies. However, they have not chosen to do so, and to the best of my knowledge no Japanese authority has ever drawn up any sort of rule saying how 株式会社 must be translated into English. If Mr. Hamo could cite some such specific regulation or legislation, I would be happy to concede the point.

Marceline
United States
Local time: 21:54
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4
Grading comment
Thank you everyone for your input. My research, along with the views posted here and elsewhere support the idea that asking the company or agency you are working for is the only way to go when there are conflicting translations for the company name.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Katalin Horváth McClure: Just wanted to say the same. Asking the company itself would be the best solution.
1 hr

agree  Mike Sekine: ditto.
5 hrs

disagree  R. A. Stegemann: I strongly believe that you are passing along bad Japanese advertising practices to the naive and unknowing.
6 hrs
  -> This has nothing to do with advertising.

agree  Maynard Hogg: I couldn't have said it better.
1 day7 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 day1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Why don't you ask your client directly...


Explanation:
We have had a simmilar problem lately and had a meeting them solved the problem.
I think it is just a preference how they call their companies.But When someone establish 株式会社,there is a strict regulations. I think you can only resistered Jpanese charactors only. thus all the company names in Romaji are nicknames.
also,前株 and 後株are resistered officially in the 法務局so you can't change unless you change the resisteration. 株XXX and XXX株 could be two different companies.
It seems like your case is just a translation error. I suggest to ask the company directly to clear your question.



Kaori Myatt
France
Local time: 06:54
Native speaker of: Native in JapaneseJapanese
PRO pts in pair: 168
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