Published on December 17, 2013
BUSINESS CULTURE AND ETIQUETTE IN JAPAN
BUSINESS ETIQUETTE IN JAPAN 1. Greetings 2. Names and Titles 3. Business Meetings 4. Conversation Topics 5. Negotiation 6. Business Entertaining 7. Gift giving 8. Practical Advice Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
GREETINGS It is best to wait for them to take the initiative in the form of greeting. With foreign negotiators they usually shake hands. On formal occasions they bow. The depth of the bow shows the status of the other person. For westerners, the most appropriate is to respond with a slight bow. When you bow you must look down and place the palms of your hands at the side of your legs. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
NAMES AND TITLES The business culture is very formal. People are addressed by Mr or Mrs followed by their surnames. When you know the person you can use the suffix san -meaning Mr- after the surname. For example, Obuchisan (Mr Obuchi). You must never use first names. First names are only for the family or with close personal relationship. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
BUSINESS MEETINGS Time is absolutely rigid. Meetings begin and end on the dot. Even if you have not finished discussing an item, the meeting will finish all the same. This is because Japanese executives usually have a very full business diary. At each meeting they only discuss the matters that have been agreed on the agenda beforehand. Improvising is not allowed, nor is there any flexibility in the items to be covered. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
CONVERSATION TOPICS Preliminary small talk before the business conversation is minimal. You must not ask any personal questions or any question that puts them in an awkward situation. You should not speak about the Second World War or sensitive business issues like the bankruptcy of financial institutions or trade protectionism. It is a good idea to ask questions about the country’s culture, art and customs. Other favourite topics of conversation are travel, food and sport, especially golf. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
NEGOTIATION Negotiations begin at senior executive level and continue to middle management level. You must bear in mind that the person who does the negotiating is not responsible for concluding the agreements. In discussions they look for harmony more than anything else. A smile indicates difficulties rather than a positive position. The decision-making process is very hierarchical and works by consensus. It is known as ringi. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
BUSINESS ENTERTAINING In the business context it is usual to dine in restaurants or go to karaoke bars. You should let them invite you first. Although these social events serve more to strengthen personal relationships, they are also used for speaking and gaining more insight into business deals. At business lunches or dinners the Japanese make several toasts. Kanpai (Dry your glass!) is the most common. To each toast that the host makes, you should correspond with another. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
GIFT GIVING Japan is the country par excellence for company gifts. They are generally offered at first meetings. When a regular relation has been established, it is almost compulsory to exchange gifts twice a year: in the second half of December (Oseibo) and mid-July (Ochugen). Leather items, pens, ties or handicrafts are good choices for gifts. Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
PRACTICAL ADVICE To obtain the Japan Business Culture Guide with more than 100 tips about etiquette and protocol, verbal and non-verbal communication, negotiation strategies, etc., clic on: Japan Business Culture and Etiquette Guide To obtain Business Culture Guides in other countries clic on: Business Culture and Etiquette Guides in 70 countries Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
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