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Japanese translation is an important way to show respect to your Japanese business counterparts when doing Business in Japan

Meeting and Greeting

Expect formality in Japanese business interactions. When doing business in Japan, your suitability as a business partner either as  supplier or a customer will be carefully considered so you should maintain a sense of professionalism and take care not to cause offence.

The bow is an integral part of Japanese society. It is used when meeting, getting attention, to show gratitude, to express sympathy or as an apology. Westerners doing business in Japan might not be expected to bow but if you are meeting a senior member of a business you should consider bowing and ensure that your head is below that of the person you are addressing.

The exchanging of business cards when doing business in Japan involves a degree of ceremony. The card is seen to represent the individual, so should be treated with respect.  Japanese translation of your business card is of vital importance as it will provide your Japanese counterpart to pronounce your name correctly – no-one wants to casue offence by pronouncing someones name wrong.  Make sure to introduce yourself with your full name followed by your company name and hand over your card with two hands along with a respectful bow.  When receiving a card, do so with both hands and place the card on the desk next to your notepad so you can refer to to it during the meeting.  Never place a card into a trouser pocket, a wallet or breast pocket shows a degree of respect.  It is important to use proper titles when addressing someone, so always establish the position of the other person.

Avoid using the “OK” sign; in Japanese translation it means money and is considered vulgar.  Do not openly display money, tipping is not expected and it is rare to see cash given from person to person in Japan. If you have to pay in cash it is important to use an envelope to pass money.

It is quite common for Japanese meetings to involve a team as opposed to an individual. Each attendee will be there with a particular expertise and while some attendees will have good English skills, be prepared for some attendees to struggle if you are speaking English only – consider a Japanese Interpreter for any important meetings.

The Japanese like dealing with quiet, sincere and compromising individuals. Extroverts are seen as brash and arrogant. Early on in negotiations remain humble, indirect and non-threatening.

In Japanese culture silent reflection is considered a virtue.   Should your meeting be punctuated by occasional silences don’t panic – wait for your Japanese counterpart to react. Never interrupt or break the silence.

For more help with Japanese translation or cultural advice speak to Technical Translations.