The United States business culture is based on a direct and informal approach. This means that “rolling your sleeves up” and getting down to business is respected and expected when working in the United States. (Executive Planet) On the other hand, the Japanese culture is a complex and multi-layered system, which developed over thousands of years. This is very much apparent when analyzing the business culture. The Japanese put a lot of focus on having a hierarchical, group-oriented society, and aim to avoid direct confrontation, maintaining the workplace harmony on a high level.(Export.org) The long-term focus on culture and tradition caused the business culture to be very formal and ...view middle of the document...
Flashy jewelry, a lot of makeup, or flashy watches should be avoided when doing business in Japan (eDiplomat).
Japanese society can be best described as a large middle class society. In comparison to the United States, Japanese workers have very similar incomes and benefits. On average, a Japanese worker makes around $1.60 an hour more than his American counterpart. Furthermore, and average work week for a Japanese worker is around 41.6 hours, rather than the usual 40 hour work week (Tatum). When it comes to benefits, things are very similar to the United States. Benefits in Japan include overtime pay, bonuses and health insurance for all employees, especially the workers in the lower paid positions. Workers also get 25 vacation days per year on average (World Salaries).
When it comes to business meetings in Japan, the time before the meeting is as important as the time during the meeting. First of all, it is common practice to call one or two hours before your scheduled meeting, just to confirm the time and let your host know that you are going to make it on time. If you are going to be late, make sure to let your counterpart know that at least one hour in advance, so they are able to reschedule. Finally, always be at least 10 minutes early for the meeting, and make sure to allow yourself even more time before the meeting if you happen to be meeting with the higher up executives.
The toughest part of conducting a meeting in Japan is the initial greeting. Japanese culture puts a lot of emphasis on bowing, and as an outsider, you are at least expected to show intent to bow. However, your Japanese counterpart might recognize that bowing is not often used in the Western culture and offer you a handshake. (Rodgers) In order to avoid confusion, you should bow and than wait to see what your counterpart does, either bows back or offers you a handshake. No matter which greet you get, it is crucial that you keep a conservative demeanor throughout the introduction, because loud and brash behavior is not common or respected in the Japanese culture. (Japanese Business Resource)
Furthermore, when it is time to take a seat, it is crucial that you wait for directions on where to sit. In the Japanese culture, seating order is very important, with the hierarchically highest person sitting on the top of the table, with the subordinates on both sides. Also, make sure you are not the first person to sit down. This does not necessarily mean to wait for instructions to sit, but if none of your Japanese counterparts are seated, it would be disrespectful to be the first one to do so. (Japanese Business Resource)
Finally, when it...