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10 Things You Didn't Know about Japanese Business Culture

Updated on Thursday 26th October 2017

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how-to-relocate-a-business-to-japan.jpgJapan used to be an isolated country in the past. 150 years later, it opened its gates to the Western civilization. Still, the country maintains its own traditions and customs. Foreign entrepreneurs looking to do new businesses here are advised by our company formation consultants in Japan to be aware of certain business etiquette rules so that they are perceived appropriately by their local business partners and employees. Here are ten things you probably did not know about the Japanese business culture.
 

1. Age requires respect in Japan

 
Even though Japan is one of the most modern countries in the world, age is still regarded with high respect here, as management positions in a company are occupied by older individuals.
 
A study of corporations in the Nikkei 225 Index proved that the CEOs of the surveyed corporations were older in each of them compared to those in other countries, with a 62 average age.
 

2. Greetings and introductions

 
Our Japan company formation advisors would like to note that greeting each other in the right way is extremely important in Japan, which is another thing to know about doing business in Japan.
 
Bowing in this country is a must, even though some hosts can be aware that Western people are not used to bowing, therefore they might offer a handshake instead.
 

3. Business card etiquette in Japan

 
It is important to remember not to throw, flick, push or slide a business card across the table to a local business person, since it may mean that you do not respect the company you work for.
 
Also, do no write notes on a local business card. Instead, jot down any notes in your phone, notepad or tablet.
 

4. Keep focused

 
When attending a business meeting in Japan, keep your hands out of the pockets when you are talking to someone.
 
Also, do not look at your phone when being part of such a meeting. The meeting should have your undivided attention.
 

5. Dress code

 
In the business world of Japan, the dress code is a conservative one. Men wear conservative business suits and women are advised to wear as little jewelry as possible, so that they do not stand out.
 
Also, women are regarded as having good taste when they do not wear high heels if this implies being taller than their male local counterpart.
 

6. Non-disclosure agreements

 
In case a foreign corporation necessitates a non-disclosure agreement signed, it should be sent to the local counterpart before the meeting takes place.
 
A lot of Japanese companies do business without having written contracts, therefore they are suspicious of foreign company contracts because of the stories they might have heard about litigation.
 

7. Save face

 
A lot of the Japanese business etiquette rules obey the rule of saving face. Therefore, it should be avoided to cause somebody to lose face by talking about their mistakes or shortcomings in front of other people.
 

8. Gifts

 
The gift exchange is a popular custom in Japan, however, not all gifts are appropriate. For example, certain flowers, like lilies, camellias and lotus blossoms should not be offered, because they are only used at funerals.
 

9. In case you are late…

 
In case you are late for a business meeting in Japan, make sure you let your Japanese business partners know at least 45 minutes before the due time.
 
Local business people have busy schedules and they might have to reschedule.
 

10. Visiting a business partner in Japan

 
If you are invited to come to a business partner’s home, it is considered a great honor in Japan. In case you receive such an invitation, our company formation representatives in Japan advise you to gladly accept it.
 
In case you need to learn more things to know about doing business in Japan, or for help in starting a company in Japan, please contact our friendly staff. 

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