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BUSINESS CULTURE

AND 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 ETIQUETTE IN JAPAN
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
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 sufx san
-meaning Mr- after the surname. For example, Obuchi-
san (Mr Obuchi).
You must never use rst names. First names are only for
the family or with close personal relationship.
NAMES AND TITLES
Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
Time is absolutely rigid. Meetings begin and end on the
dot. Even if you have not nished discussing an item, the
meeting will nish 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 exibility in the items to be covered.
BUSINESS MEETINGS
Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
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 nancial
institutions or trade protectionism.
It is a good idea to ask questions about the countrys culture,
art and customs. Other favourite topics of conversation are
travel, food and sport, especially golf.
CONVERSATION TOPICS
Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
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 difculties rather than a
positive position.
The decision-making process is very hierarchical and
works by consensus. It is known as ringi.
NEGOTIATION
Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
In the business context it is usual to dine in restaurants
or go to karaoke bars. You should let them invite you rst.
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 ENTERTAINING
Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
Japan is the country par excellence for company gifts.
They are generally ofered at rst 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.
GIFT GIVING
Business Culture & Etiquette Guides
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
PRACTICAL ADVICE
Business Culture & Etiquette Guides