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I am teaching a class at church on the importance of having an accountability partner to check on our goals, growth, and see whether or not we are fulfilling our plans. Originally, I found that 責任パートナー could be a translation for accountability, but then my students seemed to be very confused. What would be the easiest way to express the ideas of "accountability partner" and "accountability meeting" in Japanese? Thanks in advance.

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This probably needs to be regarded as a comment since the it is largely the result of years of thinking about this issue. I posted it in hopes that someone gets something out of it.

I've always struggled with expressing the word accountability in Japanese too. Since it's usually translated as 説明責任, I felt it didn't fit in many of the situations where I wanted to use the English word accountability.

First, I must explain that in the process of searching for a good way to express the concept of accountability, I have come to the conclusion that there are different kinds of accountability, so different words should be used in Japanese for each until the various concepts are encompassed in one term, which may or may not happen at all.

According to many dictionaries, accountability is 説明責任. There are plenty of examples where this does fit. When people talk about someone who has to give an account (usually some combination of who, what, when, where, why, and how) of things that have or will happen or a situation where such accountability arises. This usage is by far the most common and is often seen in government sessions (国会会議録 = 3.34 PMW (1位) in the NINJAL-LWP). It can usually be translated as accountability until a phrase like 説明責任を果たせ! appears where in English we would tend to talk about "fulfilling some specific responsibility" or "doing something because you are accountable." (I am aware some people translate that as "Fulfill your accountability," but while understandable, that usage is far too rare to be acceptable.
[Grounds for this assertion:
Ngrams fulfill * accountability (includes his, her, your, their, etc. with 0 results)
Google Books "fulfill your accountability" (20 hits)
Google All "fulfill your accountability" note that there are only 50 actual results (it said "about 1880 results" before telling it to show all results and going to the last page])

The question at hand is an excellent example of where 説明責任 doesn't work as a translation of accountability. In Japanese you are literally saying,
"[You] have the responsibility to explain (who, what, when, where, why, and/or how)"
where in English we say "You are accountable." I think this stems from a fundamental difference in thinking between the languages (cultures), in this case the difference between "a person being ~" vs "人に~がある."

Another way I have seen accountability expressed is to use 責任 by itself as a translation of accountable. These example sentences are from 研究社新英和大辞典第6版

He is accountable to me for what he does.
彼はその行動について私に対して責任がある。

I hold him accountable for it.
私はその責任は彼にあると思う。

This is closer to the kind of accountability we want, but still not quite right because of the force of the word 責任 that creates a vertical relationship when we want more of a mutual relationship.

It is my belief that there is no word for such a concept. So, I thought about how I would express it in Japanese and I think 報告責任 is as close as I can get. This word doesn't exist as far as I know, so use it at your own risk, but with a little explanation I think it carries the meaning of accountability you want without the requirement of explaining the who, what, when, where, why and how of every action, or the vertical relationship.

外人の分際で新語を造るなどはおこがましいと思いますが、必要な言葉は本当に存在しないと思います。どうかお許しを。

  • I believe that someone will get something out of your comment so I gave it a vote up. However, I'd like to point out that the question is very specific about what it is asking, and that is how to translate "accountability partner" and "accountability meeting" as it relates to a religious class. Doing online searches will yield the Katakana of these phrases that answers exactly what the question is asking for and that is what I gave in my answer. – DXV Jul 25 '18 at 4:32
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    I appreciate that (^^) Admittedly I focused on answering the title of the question because I think being able to explain the concept in Japanese will give whatever words are used, borrowed or new, meaning instead of the usual vague grasp of English katakana words that can mutate into the monstrosity known as 和製英語. I had never heard the terms accountability partner or meeting in English, let alone Japanese, before seeing this question so to expect nonspeakers of English to understand アカウンタビリティ apart from 説明責任 without a proper understanding of the concept in Japanese seems like quite a stretch. – By137 Jul 25 '18 at 5:34
  • Thanks for the detailed analysis of the word. I do feel that 説明責任 has a hierarchical connotation. And though it is not a specific answer to my question, it does bring a lot of light on the different usages of the concept as a whole. – ANG Jul 25 '18 at 7:26
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I'm not a big fan of Katakana, but sometimes the best way to express an idea that originally came from a non-Japanese word is to just use it. 説明責任パートナー and 説明責任ミーティング just don't cut it. アカウンタビリティパートナー is used in dozens of Japanese websites relating to Bible studies.アカウンタビリティミーティング doesn't appear as many times though.

  • I'm still new to Stack Exchange so I don't quite understand why I would get a vote down even though I answered what was being asked. Does anyone have an idea as to why some people do this? – DXV Jul 25 '18 at 2:34
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    Thanks for the insight, it is especially useful to know that some other Christians are using the term. I wish we could avoid using Katakana, but maybe it is just not possible in this case. – ANG Jul 25 '18 at 8:49

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