To do business with Japanese companies, it’s important that you first establish a relationship of mutual trust first and that can take time. You are most likely to be taken to an “居酒屋izakaya” (Japanese pub with lots of food) by your host while in Japan on a business trip. Over the drinks, it helps if you can show some respect to Japanese culture as it livens up conversation.
In the coming weeks, I will be introducing some useful topics for non-Japanese business people so that they have something, other than business, to talk about while socialising with their Japanese counterparts.
My first post on this theme is manga comics. Manga comics are not only extremely popular among the Japan including those of working ages but also a field in which Japan has established its status as a global leader. Many popular manga comics are translated into several languages and made into TV animation series. Your Japanese host would be delighted if you knew even a little bit about “Slam Dunk”, an extremely popular basketball-themed manga from the 90s. Have a look at the attached link for a list of some of the most popular Japanese manga comics. They may come in very handy during your next business trip to Japan post-corona virus.
The agove site lists up the 10 best Japanese manga to read in English. My personal recommendation is "Haikyu!!" (See a short video clip below. Also avaialble in Engish from Crunchyroll and Netflix). .
And also please remember that hiring a GOOD interpreter goes a long way in establishing that all-important mutual trust.
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.
Picture: Asahi Shinbun
English-Japanese conference interpreter Hiromi Sakai
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