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Business Culture

Japan’s unique and ritualised business culture is often considered to be the biggest obstacle for foreign businesses seeking to establish themselves in the Japanese market. This is because the Japanese highly value etiquette and protocol during any type of business meetings. However, this need not discourage you from investing in the Japanese market, since most Japanese are very forgiving of Westerners provided they show respect and show some interest in understanding Japanese culture and etiquette. Here you will find some information and tips aimed at improving your understanding of the dynamics of business meetings in Japan as well as ensuring that your future meetings with Japanese businessmen go more smoothly.

Japanese Business Meeting Etiquette

You should dress formally for any type of business meeting just to be safe. Although there are certainly business-related events where it is appropriate to dress informally (ex: such as a round of golf), it is always better to err on the overly formal side. Furthermore, your manner should be conservative (try to avoid seeming brash or arrogant). When you meet your business partner, it is important to honour the Japanese cultural traditions. You should first bow and then wait to see if he offers a handshake. Seating arrangements are also very important in business meetings, and are determined by status. You should be attentive throughout the meeting and acknowledge every member’s input, as this will demonstrate that you are engaged and interested in what they have to say.

Japanese Business Meeting Etiquette

About Business Culture

As 3rd largest economy in the world, Japan represents a strategic interest for EU companies. The country has the second highest spending worldwide on R&D, and its companies remain amongst the most valuable and technologically advanced in the world.

Business Meeting Protocol

In order to successfully build a network of Japanese colleagues, proper observance of Japanese business protocol is vital, as one significant faux pas could offend your prospective business partners and cost you a lucrative business opportunity.

Do's & Don'ts

Adapting your professional etiquette to the Japanese business environment may seem like a daunting task!

Lost in Translation

Politeness and formality are characteristic of business communication in Japan. In order to successfully enter the Japanese market, it is vital that you build up good working relationships with your Japanese contacts, partners or suppliers by respecting and following proper business etiquette.

Negotiation Process

According to Minato Kadoi analysis, in Japanese negotiation styles, it is certain that the Japanese value creating a trusted rapport with their counterparts as a pre-requirement before negotiations.

The Customer is God

It is often said that the customer is always right or even that the customer is king. The corresponding Japanese proverb says that the customer is God (in Japanese, “okyakusama wa kamisama desu”).