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The present conditions and the issues of Japanese Sign Language interpreter training
In Japan, the attitudes of the government toward Japanese Sign Language separates in two directions. The Ministry of Health and Welfare regards Japanese Sign Language as a means of implementation and a function to the deaf, while the Ministry of Education is still negative towards Japanese Sign Language and manual languages. The attitude toward the education of the deaf is basically oralism. These situations of the government on Japanese Sign Language have a great influence on sign language interpreter training in Japan. The Ministry of Health and Welfare itself, has not carried out the programs related to sign language. It has only been subsidized by the actual promoters. Owing to the policy of the Ministry, sign language interpreting activities in Japan have brought up their own characteristics; the volunteer "sign language circles" which were formed for sign language learning, interpreting, and interpreter training. At the present time, more than 1,000 such circles exist in Japan. This is the reason why the people call the situation the "sign language boom." The circles have been alot of help to deaf people in all areas of the deaf culture. However, there were days when the use of sign language itself had great significance to the deaf and the government. Those days are over. Now, the deaf people and those who work for the deaf need more skilled signers, competent interpreters, and a more advanced form of sign language. Such situations in Japan and the excellent model of California State University, Northridge, "a Utopia," are contrasted in this paper and the activities that may improve the situation of sign language interpreter training are discussed.