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Doing Business Abroad

Business in Japan

The world that we live in is very diverse, its our differences that makes us interesting and gives another a chance to learn something new and for you to explore and widen your perspective, knowledge of the world and gain a greater appreciation for humanity.

Everything depends on perspective. If we were truly open, we wouldn’t ostracize what’s new or unique to our own understanding. We should be intrigued. Even at work, there is an opportunity to learn about each other through interaction. There are several things to keep in mind when it comes to cultural norms and diversity in the workplace.

Anytime business in conducted overseas, one should always research acceptable behaviors and practices. “A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” Says world renown poet Moslih Eddin Saadi Persian. It’s so important to foster great interactions that will produce and increase communication.

For instance, if we were to travel to Japan for business there are some things you should know in advance. Their culture is big on respect and integrity. Here are some things to keep in mind because what you don’t know can hurt you.

  1. Greetings –, shake hands if offered and provide a business card

  2. Communication Style -It is okay to speak when spoken to. Silence is golden and once should not overshare. Silence is synonymous with wisdom and self-control.

  3. Formality Japanese society is unusually formal, polite, and conformist; attributes which, especially formality, permeate the way Japanese businesspeople conduct themselves at business meetings and social gatherings. … Many Japanese seldom shake hands and might be so uncomfortable doing so that they might avoid meeting again.

  4. Roles and status- The Japanese Hierarchy needs to be honored. Respect for age and status is very important in Japanese culture, with hierarchy affecting all aspects of social interactions. The Japanese are most comfortable interacting with someone they consider their equal. Status is determined by a combination of someone’s role in an organization, which organization they work for, which university they went to and their marital situation.

  5. Attitudes towards work and success – working hard and being integral with your work is extremely important in Japanese business..

  6. Concept of time Punctuality is the first step to aiding your efforts to doing business in Japan. Punctuality, timeliness and sticking to commitments: The Japanese believe strongly in ‘no hidden surprises’ and are committed to a very high degree of predictability and consistent reliability (not just reliability)

  7. Personal space and/or eye contact – maintain a healthy distance, Maintain distance. Do not step in for a handshake, a hug, or even a friendly clap on the back, be respectful, keep your gaze lowered

  8. Privacy- Japanese are very reserved, do not be pushy or rude.

  9. Dress Code Honor the dress code. Men wear business suits, women are also dressed professionally but should keep their jewelry tucked in and should refrain from wearing heels.

  10. Gifts Exchange Gift exchange is an important tradition in Japan, especially at the first meeting. What can possibly go wrong when giving a small gift? Many things, it seems: Flowers such as lilies, lotus blossoms and camellias are used for funeral services and should, therefore, be avoided. The same applies for any white flowers. Potted plants also carry negative superstitions. And buying a set of four of anything is deemed unlucky. The number nine is also inauspicious. Furthermore, if you send Christmas cards, avoid red, as funeral notices are customarily printed in red.

  11. Small stuff matters Something simple as blowing your nose in public is considered rude. Once should excuse themselves.


Martinuzzi, B. (2013).

Persain, M. E. (n.d.). Moslih Eddin Saadi persian Poet Quotes. Derived from

Tirupathi, K. (2007). Punctuality: The Japanese way of Business. Derived from.

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