About localization of SAP materials into Japanese

ASAP Globalizers

About localization of SAP materials into Japanese

When localizing SAP material into Japanese, there are many factors to take into consideration. Through years of experience, Kawamura International has been an SAP language partner for the past decade, and our board member, Kozo Moroguchi has provided us with the 3 main things you should know when localizing SAP material into Japanese.

1. Double-byte characters

As everyone knows, Japanese text uses double-byte characters.

The number of characters that can be displayed on a product’s interface is limited, and there are many cases in which characters are not fully displayed on the actual screen as localization into Japanese has been done without taking this limitation into account.

Double-byte characters
Double-byte characters

Numbers, katakana, and the alphabet also have double-byte and single-byte versions, and, if there are no stipulations regarding their usage, they could force a system to shut down in a worst case scenario. There are cases in which a single-byte slash used for an area of a translation in which only double-byte characters are permitted has resulted in corruption of all the characters in the report subsequently output.

As such, it is best to decide the rules before starting a translation project.

2. SAP Term

Although there is a database and website that allows you to view SAP terminology, for Japanese there is a very unique process that involves having the relevant SAP field staff member check each term to be defined before release. Field staff members are responsible for making the final decision on terminology, so this has a high degree of reliability.


SAP Term
SAP Term

As there are a lot of SAP expressions and terminology that have been handed down from the R/3 era, we have to comply with SAP Term as users who have been using SAP products for a long time will feel something is wrong or in the worst case be hindered in their use of SAP products if we don’t.

In terms of ease-of-use as well, complying with SAP Term is very important.

3. A range of notation rules

As Japanese text is comprised of single- and double-byte characters, katakana, hiragana, letters and numbers, there is more variation in notation rules than other countries.

Even for brackets, you have four varieties of 「 ( 『 【  and there are single- and double-byte variations for these as well. If there are no clear rules about which brackets to use, then this can cause inconsistences during translation.

In the case of SAP, as the number of products they acquire increases, so does the burden on the people doing the translation. Acquired products have already been translated in some form and have their own terminology and notation rules. They are acquired and added to the SAP product family, and this causes conflicts between the terminology and notation rules henceforth and SAP terminology and notation rules.

While there are some projects where translation is restarted from scratch using SAP notation rules, there are others in which notation and terminology conventionally used are reused as far as possible,

 We have to listen to the requests of the developers and make proposals based on the current situation while considering what is best for the customer without simply sticking to the notation of one side or the other.