Small tips doing business in Japan

Lost in translation.

Doing business in Japan will be quite different then how things are done in the Western culture.

For instance you wish to get a contract signed between two companies.
In the Western culture you might say I'll talk to the person in charge or talk directly with the president and will get the contract signed today!

Yes that might happen in the West but not likely in Japan.

In Japan they will go back to talk with their team within the company.
So it takes time and patience to do business in Japan.

There is no one to blame Japan has it's own story.

Here's a few points why Japan is what it is.
Japan has grown it's unique culture by few reasons. One Japan is an island, meaning information doesn't flow as easily. Second in the Edo period Japan has isolated it self from the world for around 300 years called Sakoku.

For a long period of time Japan missed out on many things and have kept and also made their unique structure that is also seen in companies.

Japanese are about we and not me.

With Japan having limited resources like land and water. In order to make rice they had to share what they had, so Japanese made a unique way to communicate in order to keep harmony with in the community.

Keeping harmony will also mean being indirect which can be really confusing from a person that comes from a Western background.

For example business in Japan you may hear "Muzukashi desune" meaning that's difficult. So if it's difficult we can find a better solution right? Wrong! In Japan usually this means "NO" you will rarely hear NO doing business in Japan.

A successful business relation in Japan is to be accepted.
There is "内UCHI" inner and "外SOTO (gai)" outer.
Like 外国人 your the person from the outer country.
内 can mean family, friends, colleges, business parters.
It takes time but it can be done to become the UCHI.


There is another unique character that Japan has which is TAKEMAE たてまえand HONNE ほんね.
What is said on the surface and what is felt underneath.

For example business conversation might end with けんとうします kentoshimasu meaning "I'll think about it" you could wait and the answer may never come.
You could have 3, 4, 5 business meetings and never hear what they truly think.

Have you seen how Japanese people drink?
Few things go out the window during the time we drink. If you want to hear the thoughts with out the Takemae filter. Go out to dinner, and grab a drink with them.
That is where you will get your answers and also many time get business to move forward.

Once you understand you will have a better chance succeeding in Japan. (Not that I have. Just started learning.)

I wish the best in success in business in Japan.
Hope this has helped. Thank you.

by Yuuki I

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