By Tom Feissner
It has often been said that professionalism is not the job you do, it’s how you do the job. The truth of this old adage was made especially clear recently during depositions taking place in Tokyo. Unlike depositions in most other countries, which are governed by the Hague Convention, depositions in Japan are governed by a special convention between the United States and Japan. The aim of this convention is to ensure that Japanese citizens and Japanese companies are treated fairly when they are parties to litigation in the United States. As such, a number of protections have been established that require depositions to be taken at specific locations under the auspices of a U.S. Consular Officer. A special deposition visa is also required for all non-residents of Japan taking part in the deposition.
What the U.S.-Japan Convention never addressed, however, was whether or not these protections were to be afforded non-Japanese citizens working for non-Japanese companies. The answer to this question became evident this week when Planet Depos was retained to provide a court reporter and videographer for a deposition at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo of a Chinese national employed by a Chinese company.
When a deposition in Japan is scheduled with Planet Depos-American Realtime, our international scheduling team takes special care to ensure that all participants hired through our firm have the necessary visas. In this particular instance, though, the lead interpreter was procured directly by deposing counsel, who was unaware of the visa requirement for interpreters. The lead interpreter, who was Chinese and had never worked at the U.S. Embassy in Japan, was also unfamiliar with this rule. When Embassy officials learned that the lead interpreter had failed to secure a deposition visa, they not only disqualified him from participating in the deposition, they also prohibited his attendance at the proceedings altogether. It seemed as though the deposition was over before it had even begun.
When failure is not an option, Planet Depos is the name you can count on. Our Asia Team is comprised of a locally based network of seasoned professionals with decades of experience in solving last-minute problems that arise during litigation. Against all odds and with no time to spare, the Planet Depos Asia Team, consisting of Japan liaison Marian Kinoshita, PD International Scheduling Manager Neal Price, court reporter Lisa Feissner, and videographer Tom Feissner, was able to locate and secure the services of one of only two Mandarin-to-English interpreters who were also Japanese residents. After a brief delay, the deposition proceeded according to schedule, much to the satisfaction of all concerned, and proving once again the power of professionalism to solve problems and get the job done.