Japan's hanko (name stamps) culture

Japan’s Hanko (seals/name stamps) culture: one of the reasons why it sometimes takes a Japanese organization very long to make a decision?

In Japan, physical stamps are still used by individuals and corporations alike in lieu of signatures. As physical stamps require physical paper documents, which do the rounds before they reach the ultimate decision maker, doing business with a Japanese company can sometimes test your patience. 


I have several governmental departments and municipal governments as my direct clients and half of them still require paper-based quotations, invoices, and receipts, and I am sometimes even asked to post them to Japan.



Thanks to the increase of “home-working” as a result of the corona virus pandemic, however, this archaic tradition is slowly giving way to electronic signature, especially amongst private corporations. As I write this post, the Japanese government is actually discussing the pros and cons of abolishing the use of stamps at governmental departments and agencies. But until electronic signature becomes the norm across Japan, non-Japanese businesses may need to remain patient a little longer.