J-Lit Introduces Children’s and YA Books from Japan

Posted by Deborah Iwabuchi, Maebashi

Funding for the Japan Literature Publishing Project (JLPP), sponsored by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan, was recently discontinued. Thus has ended an ambitious project to spread Japanese literature through translation.

JLPP was originally run by J-Lit (Japanese Literature Publishing and Promotion Center).  Many of us in the translation community in Japan and around the world owe a great deal to J-Lit for the opportunities they provided. Recently we discovered that the organization is still with us, still promoting Japanese literature in translation in the form of a website, “Books from Japan.” Most exciting for SCBWI is the section on Children’s & YA books.

As of today, 109 children’s and young adult books are on view. The website has information about both the book and the author in English, and a clip of the cover of the Japanese version.

Some of these books, such as Emily’s Balloon by Komako Sakai and Guri and Gura by Rieko Nakagawa, have been translated into other languages and are available from overseas publishers. Unfortunately (for the SCBWI Tokyo Translation Group), there are no links to these translations and no mention of the translators themselves. There is contact information for publishers, but no indication of how prospective translators might make an offer to do a translation of a particular book or even how a publisher might go about finding a translator.

The target of this site as stated is “overseas publishers, editors, and other interested readers.” It goes on to explain, “The site is operated by . . . J-Lit with the cooperation of publishers in Japan.” J-Lit has done an admirable job of getting books on the website and scheduling regular additions. It is our hope that they will also add clips of covers of translated versions and consider adding profiles of translators qualified and eager to be of service.

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