After the clamor over a recent article claiming Like a Dragon executive producer Masayoshi Yokoyama is allowing changes to the games at the request of westerners, the producer has since denied these claims.
For those not aware, there was an article published by The Japan Times where various localizers outright admitted to removing “offensive content” in their English localizations. The game’s producer has now denied “localizers are changing the original work”.
“Many representations which were normal in Japan in the first Like a Dragon games are no longer acceptable today,” Yokoyama said. “We ask our teams in the United States and Europe to read the game’s script, and they tell us if they see things that wouldn’t be acceptable in their country.”
Now, Masayoshi Yokoyama went to social media and elaborated on the matter further:
On localization (part 1)
The story seems to have been misrepresented, but localization does not change the original (Japanese) content.
I have them check to make sure there are no unintentional derogatory terms, discriminatory expressions, religious issues, etc., and then correct them with the original script.
In other words, there is no difference between the Japanese version and the overseas version.
On localization (part 2)
For example, when it comes to proverbs, Japanese folktales, or chapter titles for Ryu ga Gotoku 8, the meaning of the original material doesn’t get across, so I changed the material to reflect the cultural area of each language.
There’s no way the Ryu team, which is so picky, would allow them to change a character’s nature or personality.
On localization (last part)
– Avoid proper nouns and expressions that may offend gamers.
– Change phrases and derogatory expressions that do not make sense in literal translation to suit the cultural area. *Of course, check Japan too.
– It’s how we’ve done it since Yakuza 0.
– Communicate Ryu ga Gotoku correctly. Localization teams are there for that purpose.
Yokoyama’s claims that localizers aren’t changing the original work needs to reconcile that there are already several examples in the latest Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth suggesting otherwise, not to mention that such alterations have been happening to several games via localizers for well over a decade.
There’s also the fact that Yokoyama himself said in the article he is requesting the US team to tell him what is considered “unacceptable” and making changes as a result of that – which is clearly altering the original work.