How Translation of ISP98 Transformed Standby LC Practice in Japan

The transition from UCP to ISP that revolutionized trade in Japan.

How Translation of ISP98 Transformed Standby LC Practice in Japan

Before ISP98 was adopted by the ICC Banking Commission in April 1998 and produced as ICC Publication No. 590, most every standby letter of credit was issued subject to UCP500, throughout the world. Even with ISP98 in existence, standbys in Japan continued to be issued based on UCP when UCP600 entered into force in July 2007. I remember that at that time when UCP was revised, we used to receive questions from customers of our branches as to what ISP98 was and what was the difference between ISP98 and UCP600, even after 10 years since ISP98 came into being. Though our overseas branches like in New York or Los Angeles may have issued standby credits subject to ISP98 at the request of American companies and under the approval of our Headquarters, there were actually no banking manuals for ISP98 for the big 3 banks in Japan to follow. Standby letters of credit under ISP98 were not issued at that time without official approval from our HQs and only for exceptional cases.

Around March 2009, our ICC Japan started translation of ISP98 in what was at the time the Otemachi building at the headquarters of the Mitsubishi UFJ Bank for whom I worked. I called and invited Yoshiharu Takahashi (who since has passed) of the Sumitomo-Mitsui Bank Corporation and Taturo Kamikawa of the Mizuho Corporate Bank, Limited. These gentlemen were my business rivals but also good friends and we have collaborated on translating several other documents of ICC Publishing. Although this work was paused for our translation of URDG758, we started it again. We met a lot of difficulties in translation but, with each challenge, we asked so many questions of Professor James E. Byrne at IIBLP. Each question he kindly answered profoundly. Without his help, we would have been lost and could not have published the Japanese translation of ISP98. We finally finished our translation in August 2011 and it was published by ICC Japan the following month after our negotiation with ICC Publishing.

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