When writing a manual for the European market, most companies do not take into consideration the Japanese translation market and the fact that around 70% of Japanese people actually read the manuals when they buy a product.
It is important to comply with the EU directives for European targeted manuals; however, it is equally important to comply with Japanese Translation requirements. Non-compliance with national standards, such as related to safety, is a frequent problem. By including the European and Asian markets when writing manuals, it will help to eliminate these types of non-compliance issues. If the manual does not apply to Japan, it should be clearly stated at the beginning of the manual in order to avoid any problems with the Japanese market.
Not using the proper approved terms is another issue. Problems occur when English terms are used in translated manuals or providing a phonetic translation where the meaning is lost but the sound is preserved. For example, in China, Chinese Translations for the Chinese market may only contain approved terms.
Japanese people surveyed by a consumer magazine indicated the following as the most important items they would like to see when using printed product manuals:
- Larger font size
- More illustrations and visual explanations
- Fewer pages
- Friendly explanation for beginners
- Fewer foreign terms used in the text
- Easy-to-use Instructions
- Fewer technical terms
- Better explanations for elderly users as Japan has an aging population
- Clearer separation between basic and advanced functions
- Manual contains a table of contents and an index