It seems that Japan is taking heed of the many benefits video remote interpreting (VRI) can deliver.

In light of an increasing number of foreign customers, Japanese supermarket giant Aeon Co. has launched a real-time video interpreting service. Shop assistants in around 550 Aeon stores now carry smartphones or tablet devices which can be used to access a video chat with interpreters via a software similar to Facetime or Skype.


Meanwhile, Japan’s MUFG Bank has started an over-the-counter service for hearing-impaired customers which involves sign language-fluent interpreters on tablet devices. The assistance is the first of its kind at a Japanese bank and is available in most outlets, acting as an intermediary between hearing-impaired customers and bank staff.

“We want the service to attract customers who may have hesitated to come to the counter,” quoted a bank official.

With this exciting new development underway in Japan, it is the hope of many that this kind of interpretation and customer assistance will begin to become adopted in other countries and perhaps, in the future, the UK as well.