There have been lots of pessimism about Japan's future in Japanese blogosphere lately, but I don't necessarily agree. Here is one breath of fresh air.
Mr. Mochio Umeda, my friend and mentor, is a well-known management consultant based in Silicon Valley, and is a charisma among young and tech-savvy Japanese youth, with a series of his best-seller books, such as "Web Shinkaron (Web Evolution)". He recently published a book about his off-time passion, "Shogi" (Japanese chess), in which he talks about the meaning of "watching" shogi as a layman, including his conversation with the top Shogi champion Yoshiharu Habu.
The Web-guru Umeda, shortly before the book's official release, declared in his blog that he opens up the content of this book to any "open-source translation" effort to any foreign language, under the agreement with the publisher. He says he wanted to let many people know about the wonderful world of Shogi around the world, and he wanted to experiment such "open-source translation" format in the context of Japan, where open source style is not as prevalent as in Europe or the U.S.
That was April 20, and on April 29, a few days after the book's release, a Japanese college student started the English-translation project, with a help of a few core people over the net. The next day, French-translation project started in the same manner.
And today, May 8, the initial translation is uploaded on the Web. It is amazing to see such speed and passion. If you take the normal steps (publisher negotiates the translation rights with a foreign publisher and hire translator....etc...), it probably will take more than a year.
Now to be honest, I have not read the book yet. I don't know Shogi. But I still think it is just GREAT. Shota Yakushiji, the leader, says in his blog, "I know the quality of translation is far from perfect. But WE WANT TO BRIGHTEN THE NOW GLOOMY JAPANESE WEB."
They need your - English-speaking reader of this blog - help. Please feel free to go to their website and help them with correcting English. They welcome any help, and if you are interested in the Shogi game, that would be even better.