10 tips for doing business in Japan

Published on April 10th, 2021

Top 10 tips on Japanese business culture

Here are 10 essential tips for making a good impression when doing business in Japan:

1. Always save face

Taking care not to criticise somebody in front of other people is absolutely fundamental to doing business in Japan.

2. Offer reassurance

The Japanese appreciate continuity, predictability and stability.

3. Manage conflict carefully

Adopt a conciliatory and accommodating manner if you need to resolve a dispute.

4. Understand the strict hierarchy

In Japan, everybody has a place in the hierarchy regardless of whether this is in the workplace or in the family.

5. Value status

Status is important and your business card should show your job title clearly – have it translated into Japanese, as well.

6. Learn about body language

Japanese people find it difficult to say ‘no’ so learn to read indirect signals that your counterpart may be trying to give you a negative answer.

7. Build trust

The Japanese like to do business with people they know so work on business relationships, which includes extensive entertaining.

8. Work through a third party

A mutual contact is the best way to make an introduction as the Japanese like to place newcomers in perspective.

9. Be punctual

Time is very valuable to the Japanese and being late is a sign of rudeness.

10. Strive for harmony

Decisions are made by consensus and can take a long time; achieving harmony within the group is a key value.


Sue Bryant is an award-winning writer and editor specialising in global business culture and travel.

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