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The following is from this article.

関電は日本の原子力事業の旗振り役となってきた経緯があり、この問題がもたらす影響は計り知れない。

I am not sure what value となってきた経緯があり brings to this sentence. Is it simply a more formal or poetic alternative to となり or となってきて?

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Is it simply a more formal or poetic alternative to となり or となってきて?

By the title, you are confused with combo of 「となってきた + 経緯」 and you feel the explanation is redundant rather than it is a more formal or poetic alternative to となり or となってきて , right?

If I adopt this, the explanation is below.

  • 「となってきた」here describes the moment of events actually has been going on.
  • 「経緯」here describes "a series of event" rather than what they are actually working on.

Let's say, buying some can of beverage from vending machine.

Putting money into the machine and choose one of the beverages, you will see the moment the beverage and money actually are dropping out into the slot from the machine. And, you might say something like that「お金を入れると自販機から、缶とたくさんお釣りが出てきた。」

However, if the vending machine won't give anything by putting money into, you might need to explain a series of events what you have done so far and where you felt something wrong happened rather than saying the concrete moment you were working on to fix the error. It's「お金と飲み物が自販機から出てこない経緯」.

So, 経緯 describes the reason and sequences of events rather than just concatenating each moments.

関電は日本の原子力事業の旗振り役となってきた経緯があり、この問題がもたらす影響は計り知れない。

Since Kanden has been a leading player of Nuclear Industry in Japan so far, the impact that this issue would make is unmeasurable.

  • Thank you, I think I understand it now. So would a more literal translation of "X 経緯があり、Y..." be "There is a long story about X, and Y..." ? – Mixel Nov 2 at 4:23
  • @Mixel I think so. You could explain the background of a long story ;「経緯」. – kimi Tanaka Nov 2 at 5:20
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    経緯 tends to be used in more formal situations but has no poetic streak. As explained above, となってきた and となってきた経緯があり are slightly different. But I think the segment 経緯があり is redundant in terms of comprehending what it means. For a native Japanese speaker like me, the expression(〜という)経緯があり is a useful expression when explaining a series of events (what has been going on) because it brings with it a more sophisticated and more professional impression. As such, people sometimes abuse it without noticing it. So, in my opinion, I believe the segement 経緯がありis redundant in the sentence. – user48754 Nov 2 at 5:38
  • There is no difference between the two expressions in translation. – user48754 Nov 2 at 5:44
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    @user48754 Please post your answer and if you feel your interepretation is helpful to the OP. I would not belive my answer is perfect even if I gave my best shot. Thanks, – kimi Tanaka Nov 2 at 9:43
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What you see is an appositive clause. For example, we can say in English:

The fact that his fingerprints were not detected at the crime site did not change the conviction.

The word "fact" just refers to the same thing the whole clause led by "that" does. Is the "fact" redundant, that is, useless? While it is technically omissible, the wording using "the fact that" has its own place in English expression. Plus, strictly speaking, it does add a piece of meaning that what said after is a "fact".

経緯 works similarly in Japanese. If we make a translation leaving out the word, it'd be like:

For KEPCO has a 経緯 that it has been a standard-bearer of the nuclear industry in Japan, this issue could have an immense impact [on the industry].

The Japanese word 経緯 roughly means "background", "historical development", or "the story so far", and very frequently used in such a way accompanied by an appositive clause. Obviously, English does not seem to have a word that can directly translate it, so you may simply omit it in translation (that may be why it strikes you as redundant), or show it by other means:

Considering (the background) that KEPCO has been...
Since KEPCO has been known for being...
Given the KEPCO's established reputation being...

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経緯 tends to be used in more formal situations but has no poetic streak.

In general, there can be a subtle--almost unnoticeable--difference in meaning between となってきた and となってきた経緯があり. But I believe there is no semantic difference in the case of the sentence in question, so the segment 経緯があり here is considered redundant in terms of comprehending what it means.

For native Japanese speakers, the expression(〜という)経緯があり is useful when explaining a series of events (what has been going on) because it gives a more sophisticated and more professional impression. As such, people sometimes abuse it without noticing. The sentence is such an example.

Therefore, there is no difference between となってきた and となってきた経緯があり, when translating the following sentence.

関電は日本の原子力事業の旗振り役となってきた経緯があり、この問題がもたらす影響は計り知れない。

My translation is:

This issue could have profound and far-reaching implications, given Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kepco) has been playing a leading role in the nuclear power industry in Japan.

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