Welcome to Japanese Business Resource

Welcome to our site, Japanese Business Resource. Here you will find a wealth of information on Japanese business etiquette and most of the essentials for conducting business in Japan. We hope this information helps you!

Facts About Japan

Located in Eastern Asia, Japan is an island nation located between the Korean Peninsula and North Pacific. With a population of approximately 130 million people, Japan has a very high density of people in relation to its geographical size.

Japan's capital city is Tokyo, which is one of the largest cities in the world. The literacy rate in Japan in 99% which is very good by world standards and is just about the same as the United States of America.

Japan's ethnic makeup is almost entirely ethnic Japanese, and the almost the entire population speaks traditional Japanese. Surprisingly, due to Japan's relatively large population, Japanese is the 6th most spoken language in the world.

Japan is a powerful industrial nation with the 2nd largest GDP in the world*, following the United States of America. Japan's leading exports are automobiles, semiconductors, and office machinery.

Introduction to Japanese Business Etiquette

The Japanese have a very complex and developed society with an equally established set of business standards. One should be very well aware of this intricate business etiquette when traveling to Japan to do business. There are many different aspects of Japanese business etiquette that exist, however it would take years of face to face experience to master everything. In this website we will focus on the basic of Japanese business etiquette, which is what your Japanese counterparts will likely expect from you on your first few trips to Japan for business.

Perhaps the most important thing to acknowledge is that the Japanese are very relationship oriented. In Japanese business culture, employees are often hired for life. This means that there is a mutual understanding that the employee will likely remain with the company for the rest of his or her working life.

Relationships are critical in Japanese business etiquette, which means that a foreigner traveling to Japan for business purposes should focus on building a relationship just as much as any other objective during the trip. Fortunately, the Japanese host will likely present many opportunities to cultivate a good relationship. This will be evident by the fondness of the Japanese to go for social activities after work, usually in a group setting.

Social Interaction

A large part of Japanese business etiquette is a heavy emphasis on personal relationships. This is present in many aspects of Japanese culture. Building relationships is a vital part of Japanese business etiquette and social interaction is the foundation of any relationship. As a foreigner looking to build trust and establish good personal relationships, one must take advantage of any opportunities that are presented.

The Japanese frequently meet at bars, restaurants, and karaoke lounges after work to relax unwind. If you are invited to a social outing after a business meeting, you should make every possible effort to go. The Japanese love to drink, and use it as a way to relieve stress and unwind. If your counterparts are drinking then you should try to drink. By making time to interact with your Japanese counterparts outside of the workplace will help very much in establishing good relationships for future business opportunities.

Japanese Business Meeting Etiquette

In Japanese business etiquette protocol is very important during any type of business affairs. Even for foreigners there is still an expectation of at least some understanding of the business customs. Nevertheless, the Japanese are usually forgiving to outsiders that show an effort to understand the Japanese business etiquette. The Japanese host will often try to help in any way possible.

A conservative demeanor is advisable, as it is not customary for Japanese businessmen to be brash or arrogant. Arrogance will take away from ones trust and image, which will lead to a lack of respect from your Japanese host.

Upon the initial meeting with a Japanese host, one must honor the Japanese cultural traditions. This includes bowing before shaking hands. Your Japanese host will likely offer a handshake, at which point a handshake will be appropriate.

In Japanese business etiquette seating positions are very important as they are in indicator of status. The highest ranking person will sit at the head of the table furthest away from the door. Always wait to be seated, and never be the first one to sit down.

Show interest in the meeting and acknowledge everyone's participation. You may want to take notes to help you remember the discussion. Taking notes will also make you look more attentive. It is very important to look as though you are interested in what is happening.

Japanese Business Card Etiquette

Japanese business cards are a very important aspect of Japanese business etiquette. Exchanging business cards is without a doubt a standard protocol in Japanese business culture, regardless of the occasion. It is part of a formal introduction, and business cannot start until this process is complete.

The Japanese word for business cards is "meishi" and foreigners are expected to have them. Japanese translated business cards or Japanese bilingual business cards are 2 sided business cards with the Japanese and English languages on them. To attend a business meeting in Japan without Japanese bilingual business cards would be a very risky move. Japanese bilingual business cards are a bare minimum requirement for anyone doing business in Japan.

Because Japanese and English bilingual business cards are such an important part of Japanese business etiquette, it makes a lot of sense to invest in high quality bilingual business cards. Make sure that the materials, colors, and the actual translation is of high quality. Research reputable suppliers on the internet by searching "Japanese business cards" or "Bilingual business cards".

Japanese bilingual business cards are to be exchanged at the very start of any meeting. Take special care to make sure that you always have enough cards on you for everyone you may encounter. Cards are exchanged very often in the Japanese business environment, so bring a lot of cards with you wherever you go.

When presenting a Japanese bilingual business card to your Japanese counterpart, use both hands and bow your head slightly while offering the card. You should use the same technique when accepting cards as well. When you take a card from someone NEVER put the card in your pocket. Use a card case, file folder, or briefcase to store the cards. In a business meeting setting, place the cards in front of you so that they are in order based on the seating positions of everyone at the table.

Dress Code and Appearance

Dress code and appearance hold a very high value in Japanese society. The Japanese frequently dress very formal and ones attire is often linked to their social and corporate status. The rule of thumb is to always play it safe and dress formally. Use darker colors such as black or dark blue. You may end up removing your shoes quite often so its advisable to wear shoes that are easy to put on and take off. Dressing well can go far in making a good impression, therefore you should make every effort to dress very well.

In Japan there is a saying, " the nail that sticks out gets hit with the hammer." This saying definitely applies to the dress code in Japanese business etiquette. Men should strive to wear conservative yet well appointed business suits that are dark in color. A low key and classy look is optimal, the goal is to impress without standing out too much. Your attire should be of decent quality. Your Japanese host will likely pay attention to your clothing, so invest in good business attire.

For Women, a conservative look is also recommended. Dark colors are best, and short skirts and pants are never to be worn. Heels should be avoided also as they are seen as informal. Women should minimize the amount of accessories that they wear also. Much of the same rules apply to women as they do with men in Japanese business etiquette.

Ones appearance when speaking should be of a calm nature. It is not acceptable to raise your voice or speak too loud. Avoid using excessive hand gestures or pointing when you speak as it is considered informal. Some hand gestures also have different meanings in Japanese culture, so they may be misinterpreted.

Document Translation

Although it is not a requirement in every case, it is always wise to translate any documents that will be used or left behind when doing business in Japan. What document translation does is limit the potential for communication issues, which can ultimately hold you back from achieving your business objectives. Although document translation is not mandatory in Japanese business etiquette, it is highly advisable. It can pay huge dividends to put fourth the effort to have your documents translated.

Translating your documents also offers some added benefit besides ensuring that you are being understood correctly. By translating your documents, you will definitely impress you Japanese counterparts. They will surely appreciate the effort that you have put fourth to make sure they can interpret the material that you are leaving with them. By translating your documents into Japanese, you will come across very professional and world class, which will help to inspire confidence from you Japanese hosts.

When translating your documents from English to Japanese, you must make sure that you have a quality solution for you translation needs. There are many companies that you can research through the internet that are of high quality. Possibly look for referrals from associates that have already traveled to Japan for business. Make sure that the company that you use has at least 10 years of experience. Having lower quality translation work done on your documents will have a real effect on your image. Image is a huge part of Japanese business etiquette.

When translating your documents, you should give yourself a 3-4 week window of time to complete everything. There are many technical issues that may arise, so be sure to give yourself time to go back and fourth with your supplier. If printing is involved, give yourself a few more days to prepare.

Japanese Business Etiquette

Hopefully this information was helpful. Be sure to explore every page of this website for useful information on doing business in Japan. Remember that Japanese business etiquette is a very complex and established protocol, and you will not learn everything from this site. However, utilizing the basic principals described in this site should help you tremendously for your first few visits.

Good Luck!