Japan is the world’s second largest economy, which offers a wealth of investment and market opportunities to international businesses. Doing business in Japan, however, is great challenge for foreign companies. Japanese culture is well known for its unique etiquette and heritages and international business is under this influences. Understanding Japanese culture, ethics and business values is crucial to any company wanting to conduct business in today's rapidly progressing Japan. Failing to understand the norms of the culture where you’re operating can cost you business.
Webster's Dictionary defines 'business culture' as "..the shared attributes, goals and practices that characterizes a company or corporation.." and 'the company' occupies a uniquely important place in both in Japanese business culture and society. To a great extent a Japanese man and his family are socially ranked by the reputation of the company he works for and the position and prospects he has there. In the US and Europe, the success of entrepreneurial economies has to an extent supplanted social casting by employment, but in Japan, entrepreneurs are not accepted so readily and are often seen as eccentrics or misfits. In 2004 Japan is as much as ever a nation of 'the company man', in colloquial Japanese called 'the salaryman'. One of the reasons why Japanese so ritually proffer and accept business cards at meetings, is the sense of pride in belonging to his company that a Japanese salaryman has. Business cards are a very necessary part of any first Japanese business (or social) meeting and this is the reason most likely to be given by your Japanese company President when strongly (and wrongly) suggesting that you must incorporate as a kabushiki kaisha if you want to succeed doing business in Japan. One of the reasons for the central importance and influence of the Japanese company in Japan's social hierarchy, is that despite the recession of the 1990s, Japanese business...
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