Реферат: Business relation ships in japan

Conflict Negotiations

(final paper)

Moscow State University

(International College)


            Businessrelationships in Japan are characterized by a well-structured hierarchy and astrong emphasis on nurturing personal contacts. Generally, they are built upover long periods of time or are based on common roots, such as birthplace,school or college. Also, an unusually strong emphasis is placed on socialactivities to strengthen ties. It is not surprising, therefore, that those lookingin from the outside may see the Japanese business world as comparatively hardto break into. In fact, there are many different kinds of businessrelationships, but most share two features — they have been built up slowly andcarefully, and much time is spent in keeping them up to date.

Business relationships in Japan arepart of an ever-broadening circle that starts within the company (uchi — inside, or«us»),and moves towards the outside (soto) to includerelated companies, industry or business organizations, and the like.

            MostJapanese companies have a series of very close relationships with a number ofother companies that provide them with support and a multitude of services. Ithas been traditional practice for a company to hold shares in these «related»companies, a practice which has given rise to a high proportion of corporatecross-share holdings in Japan. This has been a show of faith on the part of onecompany towards another, and also has been useful in providing companies with acore of stable and friendly shareholders.

            Whendealing with a Japanese company, it is important to be aware of the existenceand nature of some of these close relationships, in particular those with banksand trading companies. Understanding these can help to define the nature of thecompany and the way it does business, as well as its positioning in theJapanese business world. It should also be understood that there is a constantflow of information between Japanese enterprises and their banks and tradingcompanies. Unless the need for confidentiality is made very clear, these maysoon be aware of any negotiations in which the company is involved.

            Largercorporate groupings are becoming more familiar to non-Japanese businesscircles. These groupings are known as keiretsu, andsome have their roots in the large pre-World War II conglomerates. Accusationsof keiretsu favouritismoverriding more attractive outside offers sometimes are levelledat Japanese companies. When asked about this practice by a foreign businessman,the president of a large Japanese electronics company replied: «It's likegoing to the tailor your father went to. He may be more expensive than thecompetition and perhaps even not the best, but he has served your family wellfor many years and you feel duty bound to remain a faithful customer.»There is a tendency in Japanese business to be guided by the familiar and humanconsiderations, and thus it is important for anyone wishing to do business inJapan to go a major part of the way in establishing a communications networkand a real presence.


Business Negotiations & Meeting Etiquette

            Faceto face contact is essential in conducting business. It is more effective toinitiate contact through a personal visit (set up by an introduction through anintermediary) than through correspondence. Initial contacts are usually formalmeetings between top executives; more detailed negotiations may be carried outlater by those who will be directly involved. During the first meeting, you getacquainted and communicate your broad interests; you size each other up andmake decisions on whether ongoing discussions are worthwhile. At this point youshould not spell out details or expect to do any negotiating.

            Exchangebusiness cards (meishi) at the beginning of themeeting. The traditional greeting is the bow. Many Japanese businessmen whodeal with foreign companies also use the handshake. If you bow, then you shouldbow as low and as long as the other person, to signify your humility. Firstnames are not usually used in a business context. In Japan, the family name isgiven last, as in English. You should address Yoshi Takeda as «Mr. Takeda»or "Takeda-san." Expect to go through aninterpreter unless you learn otherwise. If meeting high-ranking governmentofficials, an interpreter is always used even if they can speak Englishfluently because customarily, they refrain from speaking foreign languages inpublic. Other businessmen may speak some English but may not be adequate forundertaking business negotiations.

Exchanging meishi

            Conservativedress is common for both men and women in public. Most Japanese professionalswear Western-style dress (European more than American), although during the hotsummer months, men often do not wear suit jackets.

            Concernabout how others perceive you pervades business and social communication inJapan. Since saving and losing face are so important, you should avoidconfrontation or embarrassing situations. A distributor that cannot follow upon a promise made to a customer loses face and may suffer damages to itsreputation. Remember, if you are supplying distributors in Japan, to deliver ontime (especially if they are samples) or else face a long chain of lost facesand apologies. An error or delayed shipment, even if it is not your fault, maydamage your company's reputation with the Japanese company you are dealing withas well as all the companies and customers that Japanese company does businesswith. Following through on promises and agreements, both oral and written, is ofutmost importance and when you cannot do this you will have to swallow yourpride and apologize profusely until you are forgiven. This is all part ofcommon business practice and you may see business people (including topexecutives) on their knees apologizing. When in Japan be ready to include thisas a part (hopefully not regular part) of your own business practice.

 Nonverbal communications — gestures, nuances,inferences — are very important in signaling intentions. «No» isseldom said directly, and rejection is always stated indirectly. Remember thatthe Japanese hai means «Yes, I understandyou» rather than «Yes, I agree with you.» The Japanese will sitin silence for some time — it is a way to reflect on what has been said. Earlybusiness and social contacts are characterized by politeness and formality.

            TheJapanese like to launch new products or take other important initiatives on«lucky days.» The luckiest day, called the «taian», occurs about every sixdays. Your Japanese counterpart will probably want to delay a majorannouncement until the next «taian». Japanese calendars usually indicate these days.

            Thepresentation of a new product is traditionally followed by a reception with theproduct on display; an omiyage, or gift, is given toeach attendee. This adds to the overall cost of the event.

            Japanepitomizes the rule «Make a friend, then make a sale.» When sellingto or negotiating with the Japanese, do not rush things. the Japanese prefer aritual of getting to know you, deciding whether they want to do business withyou at all, instead of putting proposals on the table, and seeing whetheragreement is possible within a broad framework.

The Japanese prefer to close with abroad agreement and mutual understanding, preceded by thorough discussion ofeach side's expectations and goals. If they decide they want to do business,they will negotiate the details with you later.

            AJapanese negotiator cannot give a prompt answer during an initial discussion.No commitment can be made until the group or groups he or she represents reacha consensus. Do not expect an immediate answer. Negotiations may take anextended period.

            Japaneseexecutives emphasize good faith over legal, contractual safeguards. They arenot in the habit of negotiating detailed contracts that cover allcontingencies. However, Japanese managers who are accustomed to Westernbusiness dealings are familiar with more structured contracts. In case ofdisputes, the Japanese prefer resolving issues out of court on basis of thequality of the business relationship.

A Japanese partner or customer willusually prefer to develop a business relationship in stages, with a limitedinitial agreement that, if successful, is gradually extended into a broader,more binding agreement. So once you make a commitment, expect it to be for along time. If you break it, your reputation will be affected and everyone willknow. It may be difficult to find another Japanese partner after this happens.


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BoyeD Mente«Business guide to Japan. Opening doors… and closing deals!»,1998
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