Japanese Business Etiquette and Culture | Doing Business in Japan

Doing business in Japan can be confusing, frustrating and unsuccessful without understanding Japanese business culture and the basic business etiquette in Japan.

Our consultants have extensive experience working for and doing business with Japanese companies, along with Japanese fluency at a business level.

We deliver training programs and seminars on Japanese business etiquette to help bridge the cultural and communication gap with Japan for improved business outcomes.  This includes support for both local staff and Japanese expatriates of Japanese companies, and support for local companies considering or conducting business with Japan.

This training can be run as a stand-alone course, or in conjunction with our Managing Multicultural Teams training. For further information, Download the Japanese Business Training Flyer or Contact Us.

Japanese Business Training

We were recently purchased by a Japanese company and used Shinka Management to assist our Senior Leadership team to get a better understanding of what it is like doing business in Japan. Shinka Management conducted a great workshop that provided the team with more than just the social and cultural differences but also key insights on how to work with Japanese leaders within the business environment.

Topics that we explored were decision making, stakeholder management and communication. Paul’s real life experience in working in Japan made this session really informative and valuable for the team, which set them up with some great tips on how to work with our new owners. Shinka Management come highly recommended.

Leila Watts – HR Director Oceania
Beam Suntory

Japanese Business Etiquette Training

Shinka Management runs one-day open Japanese Business Etiquette training courses as well as customised in-house training at client’s premises. Courses cover key characteristics of Japanese culture, company structure and business customs. Seminars include a mix of presentation, video, interactive learning experiences and discussion. Participants are provided a training workbook with all content from the course.

Japanese Business Etiquette

Japan Country Overview
Relationships and Hierarchy
Society and Conventions
Gift Giving and Receiving
Japanese Dining and Drinking Etiquette
Communication and Interpreters
Relationship Building
Service and Presentation
Business Travel in Japan

Doing Business with the Japanese

Japanese Company Characteristics
Mindset of the Japanese Executive
Corporate Values and Decision-Making
Human Resources
Management Culture
Hosting and Attending Meetings
Hosting and Organising Delegations

Sekisui Rib Loc Australia engaged Shinka Management to support a proposal to engage with a Russian investor in the development of the Russian waste and fresh water pipe rehabilitation market. The plan incorporated the Japanese group’s international portfolio of technologies and products; and presented verifiable data on the Russian pipe rehabilitation market and its potential development. The plan needed to be instructive to the Russian client in a manner acceptable to the Japanese shareholder.

The business plan and related presentation was successfully delivered in Moscow. Paul Smith was directly engaged in the project with support from Ben Sparrow, to ensure the presentation was congruous with Japanese business norms. Shinka Management provided services to a very tight deadline. Paul worked seamlessly with the international group to draft the business plan for the Russian market.

Paul accompanied the team to Moscow, then from local advice modified and made an effective presentation to the target client. Shinka Management developed the business plan and related market development presentation delivered in Moscow to a highly professional standard, working to a very tight deadline for a unique market opportunity supported by Japanese stakeholders.

Their commendable work proved a critical element in our engaging a large corporate group in Russia.

Barry Taylor – CEO (Former)
Sekisui Rib Loc Australia

The training gave us a great opportunity to develop relationships between us and our Japanese colleagues. Paul presented the culture of the country and behaviors of the Japanese people in an easy and attractive manner.

Marina Morgunova – RTRu Engineering School Coordinator
Renault Russia

For further information about our Doing Business with the Japanese training courses, please Download the Japanese Business Training Flyer or Contact Us for a quote.

The Ever-Evolving Relationship with Japan

Japan remains a vitally important trading partner with many countries.

Japan has entered numerous free trade agreements (more appropriately referred to as Economic Partnership Agreements by Japan), commencing with Singapore in 2000, and extending to Mexico, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Chile, Thailand, Brunei, ASEAN, Vietnam, Switzerland, India, Peru, and most recently with Australia through the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement. Japan is also recognised as a heavy investor into other regions such as USA and Middle East.

Japan has developed a strong trading history with these countries despite greatly differing cultures and language issues. Through improved understanding of each other, there are boundless opportunities for the people of these countries to further their trade relationship with Japan.

With increasing investment into these regions, local professionals are increasingly dealing with Japanese in a business environment without necessarily ever visiting Japan. Human resources managers face the challenge of giving their employees the best platform to understand and engage with management and colleagues who have come from a very different corporate upbringing.

Japanese Business Etiquette

It is amazing how a little understanding about another’s background can help bridge communication and understanding. Those who have had difficulty dealing with Japanese in business will find that developing some insight about Japan as a country, its people, and Japanese business culture can give clarity to some of those moments that have mystified them.

Japan is a fascinating place. Learning about its people, culture and customs is an enjoyable experience and developing the skills to seamlessly enjoy a Japanese lunch or evening function with colleagues can be very useful. Traveling there is even more enjoyable! Whilst exploring this, we address the characteristics of Japanese society that cause Japanese to think and behave differently.

Thank you so much for yesterday. I just wanted to pass on some feedback from everyone this morning because they were all overwhelmingly pleased with yesterday’s training. We all agreed it was extremely helpful.

My colleagues mentioned that the way you delivered and also the information provided was exactly what we needed. Comments were made such as you were real but at the same time appropriate and informative for a delegation visit to Japan. Madam Mayor and the team are much more comfortable with this visit thanks to the guidance you’ve provided.

I just wanted to send a big thank you from us for putting this together on such short notice and also for the extreme help that you’ve been not only yesterday but in all the other support you’ve given. We really do appreciate it and I just wanted to pass on the positive feedback.

Aliesha Gates, Community Development Worker
Central Coast Council

Japanese Business Culture

The Japanese business world can seem just like another world. The framework that governs relationship-building, customs, business etiquette and the entertainment scene differs greatly to Western, Middle-Eastern and Asian cultures. There are a myriad of pitfalls into which an unwitting business professional can fall that will unsettle their Japanese counterpart.

An understanding of Japanese business culture is priceless whether you are observing their conduct, listening to their presentations or negotiating a deal.

We would like to thank Shinka Management for an effective and enjoyable learning experience. Paul tailored a program to meet our specific needs, and was well prepared on the day to take us through important information and advice to help us successfully navigate cultural differences, particularly in a business context. Our small team were highly engaged throughout the session, and appreciated Paul’s interactive and responsive style of delivery. We hope to work with Shinka again in the future, and highly recommend them as a great resource for companies looking to conduct business in Japan!

Claire Kaufman – Chief Operating Officer
Paradigm BioPharmaceuticals

Japanese Company Characteristics

Whether it is continuous improvement, production, quality or human resource management, Japanese management techniques in many areas lead the world. However, there are other areas where outside observers scratch their head. As an example, Japanese companies are notorious for their slow decision making. Those doing business with the Japanese often mutter that their Japanese counterparts are stalling or avoiding making a decision. But is it the individual, their colleagues, their corporate policy, or the Japanese business culture which is delaying an outcome?

The managerial characteristics of a Japanese company are important for local managers to not only understand about their local presence abroad, but also about their head office in Japan. An insight into how the head office manages the business will most probably throw light onto why certain decisions are communicated from Japan and how Japanese expatriate managers deal with those decisions locally.

Doing Business in Japan

There are some key points to be mindful of when conducting business with the Japanese. It is never a case of walking over broken glass to please your counterpart. We always encourage our clients to be themselves. But if your objective is to establish and continue a healthy relationship in order to maximise business outcomes, it is a advantage to understand the expectations, techniques and considerations required to successfully do business with the Japanese.

We really enjoyed the training and got a lot out of it! Just understanding those little things helps – we didn’t realise quite a few things about the life of a Japanese person which was very interesting! Thanks for pulling this all together for us.

Ashleigh Schultz – Team Leader, Head Office Administration

Working within a Japanese Company

Local employees need to be aware of the expectations from their Japanese employer. Ignoring this will continually cause a sense of unease, mistrust and low performance.

What role is expected of local managers and employees in a Japanese company? In accordance with these expectations what should local managers be tackling? What should they be doing as a manager? What type of actions should they be taking towards problem solving? How should they be developing their subordinates? Do the rules of Japanese business etiquette apply to them?

Local management should take time to understand what it means to work for a Japanese employer. Understanding the true meaning behind the expectations will lead to an improved engagement of local employees.

The training was highly informative. The topics regarding Japanese culture will be of great help to our staff who are new in Japan. The topics on working within a multicultural environment were also informative and gave me a good overview of the differences of each culture.

Takeshi Miyara – Executive Housekeeper
Club Med Tomamu

The training was fun which also leads to people becoming interested and remembering alot of the content. The delivery and the way the session was run were also excellent. Great presenter, great execution.

Stephano Park – Consultant – Professional Services

Japanese Expatriates Working within Overseas Companies

Japanese companies have long held a system of sending employees to manage their overseas bases. It is often the case that they may only be abroad for a few years before they move on. It is therefore critical for them to understand the local culture quickly in order to be effective with managing local employees in a local environment.

Shinka Management understand the situation of these Japanese expatriates. We understand their Japanese business culture and the foreign business cultures they have been dispatched to work within. We can tailor programs that either work exclusively with the Japanese expatriates or in parallel with the local employees. These are conducted in Japanese and English respectively. Combined sessions with presentations and discussion of learnings can take a big leap towards bridging the cultural and communication gap.

For further information, Download the Japanese Business Training Flyer or Contact Us.