ATOK, which stands for “Advanced Technology
Of Kana-Kanji transfer,” is a Japanese input
system developed
for writing text in Japanese.
The basis of a Japanese input system is the
process of phonetic input in romaji
Japanese scripts) or kana (syllabic Japanese
scripts), and converting the phonetics into kanji
(Chinese characters used in Japanese).
In Western languages, characters entered from a
keyboard form words themselves, and the
thoughts of the
typist are conveyed directly. With
Japanese, however, an additional “conversion”
step where the entered
phonetics are converted
into kanji, katakana or other characters is
required. As this conversion process distracts
typist from their thoughts, it was thought to be
difficult to convey the thoughts of a person directly
when typing
Japanese with a PC.
JustSystems has pursued research and
development into (Japanese language) natural
language processing that
“avoids hindering a
person’s thoughts,” ensuring that within the series
of tasks a person performs to think and
themselves, they are not hampered by
cumbersome operations or sense the annoyance
of using a
This effort culminated in the creation of ATOK.
Since the first iteration of ATOK in 1985, it has
evolved in step with JustSystems’
commitment to developing more comfortable
Japanese input systems.

The High Frequency of
Conversions from
Kana to Kanji
Drove the Need for a “Natural”

Allocating the space bar to the operation of
converting text entered into a PC to kanji was our
doing here at
JustSystems. There is a reason we
made the space key available for this task while
the program was active,
even though Japanese
keyboards have a henkan (“convert”) key.
Traditionally, the space bar is for inserting
between words while typing English. We came
across the realization that when entering
Japanese, it was
perhaps more natural to use this
space bar to convert text into kanji a phrase at a
time, and would more closely
align with Japanese

Evolving ATOK by Embedding
Bring Customer Issues
In-house to Develop Solutions

“Corrective learning” which learns patterns of
input mistakes and
instantly gives correct
conversion candidates, and continues to
carry on
various “mechanisms” such as addition of
confusion of humbling word and
respected word to proofreading
support function
Japanese input system “ATOK” that I did. Now
that e-mails and the Internet have become
widespread, such as
buzzwords and current
affairs terms added, dialing and spoken
words can
be converted into the correct Kana kanji with a
shot while improving the conversion
precision, personal needs of
“obvious” We have
responded to you as soon as possible. Also,
Justsystem’s strength is that sales representatives
who noticed
problems with customers’ issues or
solutions that are “language
professionals” such
as newspaper publishers, publishers, etc. bring
their voices to the company and apply them to
development. We are steadily responding
to customer’s voice, such
as automating ATOK’s
internal dictionary distribution and
grammar proofing support tools.

Making Smartphone Operation
Smart with Touch-based Text

The Japanese processing technologies built in to
ATOK, which was
developed for inputting
Japanese on a PC, has been embedded in
400 types of device from mobile phones to car
systems and gaming consoles. Among
these devices, one of the
more challenging
iterations is smartphones, as text is entered
through touch operations. Customization support
differs by model,
and each person experiences
touch operations differently because
of their
unique fingers and habits. Our development
engineers and
the ATOK dictionary team racked
their brains over the myriad
difficulties and
challenges in striking the right balance between
conflicting factors. They wanted to keep what
makes ATOK smart
the same, not compromise on
the conversion efficiency, but also
avoid slowing
down processing speed. Similarly, when releasing versions of ATOK that run on Android or iOS, we
gather feedback
from each customer and carry
out meticulous tuning on each
system. The joy of
providing everyone with the convenience of
anytime and anywhere is a feeling we hold close
to heart as
we strive to provide an experience
optimized for each person. In
this way, even today
ATOK continues to evolve behind the scenes.