There’s so much to learn when you’re on the road. Not only it’s the different landscapes, different food, and fashion that is inspiring me when I’m in a new territory, but also the business do’s a don’t’s are something that is interesting to me.
Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism are still influencing Japan’s culture, code of ethics, family life but also the business. Back to 1633, Japan has closed its borders to any foreigners for nearly 250 years. “Sakoku” means closed country and has left a significant imprint on the mindset of a Japanese person until today. With a population of nearly 130 million the percentage of foreigners is quite insignificant (< 1.5%). Japan has a yearly GDP of 4.658 trillion dollars, so doing quite well and keeps good relationships with its main trading partners in Asian territory (China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, US, Saudi Arabia, UAE).
If you are planning on doing business in the country of the rising sun, you should remember a few useful tips:
- Japanese people believe that the secret weapon of their country is quality control, so basically management during all stages of production,
- Industrialization is desired and should not be confused with the desire for westernization. Japanese people are taking care of their unique style in all areas,
- It takes a time to build a relationship with your new business partner and you should take this time. There will be no business relationship without trust from your Asian partner,
- Being humble and apologetic is admired, so you shouldn’t show anger, criticism or impatience if you would like to build a relationship,
- Never praise or criticize in public,
- Show respect to older people,
- The business relationships and hierarchy in work is very complicated and depends on the gender, the age, and the role. There is are various structures of sentences for each case – an employed woman is not allowed to use the same words as her male colleague,
- Decisions are arrived at through lengthy consensus-building,
- It’s a cohesion culture – never praise your own skills but talk about the skills and achievements of your team, company,
- The Japanese will always try to avoid the word “no” by building long explanations around their decision. It’s not welcome to be too direct,
- Japan is a lonely island, so it’s good to remember that the English language is not that common. If you ask anyone in business or in private and it will not be understood, a Japanese person will pretend he did.