Understanding Japan’s Business Etiquette

Japan is a leading global economy; it’s useful for foreign organizations entering business with Japan to understand the basics of Japan’s business etiqutte.

The span of the late 19th century into the 20th century marked a new era for Japan. During this period, Japanese culture rapidly incorporated western technological advancements to its way of life. Throughout the years trailing WWII, Japan prospered from an economic and, and eventually secured the position as leading exporter.

As Japan continues to uphold its economic success, it’s useful for organizations looking to do business with Japanese companies to understand the basics of Japanese social protocol to ensure successful, lasting business partnerships.

Communicating via Negotiation

japanese etiquetteIn business, Japanese do not like to confront each other. As a result, business associates in Japan tend to convey messages nonverbally, through body language, for example. Japanese don’t like to say “no.”

Foreign negotiators, then, are advised to phrase concerns that could be answered affirmatively while considering a collective decision making process. In Japanese business, making collective decisions is the preferred method for solving problems.

Body Language

In Japanese business, associates aim to maintain peaceful environments, and do not speak loudly in professional atmospheres. Occasionally, if a businessman is adamant about listening and understanding what another speaker is saying, he will close his eyes while the speaker speaks.


In Japanese business, written contracts are mandatory for negotiation, but are drafted with the intent of renegotiating if necessary.

Japanese prefer to keep contract terms more general, so that if issues are presented, solutions can be handled organically. During Japanese business negotiations, it is rude for a negotiator to lose emotional control, or to speak loudly.

Business Attire

In Japan, business dress is conservative and conventional. Japanese men wear dark suits, like black or navy blue. Japanese businesswomen also dress conservatively, taking care not to choose business wear that is revealing or improperly fitted.