Doing Business in Japan – Intimidating and Challenging!

Doing business in Japan can be intimidating to foreigners who do not understand their culture or their business habits. This is not a barrier to doing business in Japan though. There are just a few things that a foreign business person needs to know before they travel to Japan for business. First and foremost, depending on who you are dealing with, the entire meeting may be spoken in Japanese. This may be the case, especially if you are dealing with a smaller domestic company. However, if you are in a meeting with a large company, the people you speak to will likely be fluent in English. Understanding Japanese or at least having an interpreter is definitely a plus when doing business in Japan The meetings will be very formal and there will be very little small talk as there are in American or European meetings. Sometimes these meetings can appear cold to foreign business people. The Japanese executives will politely exchange business cards, listen to your presentation while taking notes, ask some questions and leave. This has nothing to do with their interest, it’s just how they conduct meetings. One thing that can be said about Japanese culture is that it is very polite. During the meeting you will be treated in the most polite and respectful manner, so it is important that you do the same. Outside of a meeting room, the Japanese will continue their tradition of politeness by entertaining their business guests. They will often take foreign executives out to dinner even if they have no intention of doing business with them. Sometimes this can happen several times in a row and give the foreign executive the wrong impression that their Japanese hosts are interested when they are not. One aspect of the Japanese business culture that makes it more favorable than others is their sense of loyalty. If you are a trusted business partner or associate of a Japanese company, you can expect them to stand by you through good times and bad. They have a strong sense of loyalty in both their business and personal lives that is very admirable.

A great resource for this topic is Market to Japan. They provide marketing consulting to firms exploring into Japan. Check out their website at: http://www.markettojapan.com/

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