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Doing Business in Japan

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There are some business etiquette that must be followed when doing business with the Japanese people, especially related to politeness and good manners which is more formal than South Korea. For example, exchanging the business card is an essential ritual after someone being introduced and bowed to the Japanese. In service industry, they already sets the global standard for their excellent service (Kwintessential, 2018).

In a business meeting, the position upon seating is determined by status, the highest ranking person will sit at the head of the table and the subordinates will sit on both sides of table. It is important to not take a lead in the meeting when it comes to sitting, drinking or eating, wait for others to initiate and then follow their lead.

Emotions, especially negative ones, are not openly expressed. Japan has an appropriate way of discussing and resolving differences indirectly, for the example with private matters not involved by public debate.

In Japanese collective relationship culture, respecting and maintaining hierarchical relationships is very important in society and business. The importance of hierarchy in Japanese culture is based in the social ethics of Confucianism, in which people are ordered in vertical, hierarchical relationships, for example, customer (higher) and vendor (lower). A stable society depends on the proper maintenance of these hierarchical relationships. There are many hierarchical relationships in Japanese business culture such as the relationship between customer and vendor, parent company and subsidiary, head office and branch office, manager and subordinate, senior (a person who joined the company earlier) and junior. Everyone has expectations that are different from others in these relationships. (Ruth Sasaki, 1999). Edward Hall, in his work Silent Language, refers to as a “high context culture.” The Japanese people are relatively homogeneous, and share a long history of common values and a very standardized educational system and strong families instills 8 assumptions. Because there is the same background, making communicating with each other does not need to express everything explicitly. And feelings can be expressed with few words, or through subtle nonverbal cues. There is a Japanese saying, “Hear one, understand ten.” Silence can also have great meaning.

If Japanese people communicate with people from other cultures, with no similar background, Japanese tend to assume a higher level of understanding, and communicate in a way that seems vague or ambiguous to foreigners, and demonstrate a high need for contextual information in order to build this shared context.

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