Japanese Cultural Traditions and International Business
Global Business Cultural Analysis: JAPAN
This paper primarily examines the global business culture evaluation of Japan and its repercussions on businesses. Communication, ethics, social structure, attitude, values, and religion are some of the cultural aspects that leverage Japan’s business activities. Modulation and complexity substantially typify communication in Japan. A person’s way of dressing, communication, and presenting themselves significantly influence business negotiation. The Japanese ordinarily gratify communal unity and hard work to avoid competing amongst themselves. This is why the businesses’ operation in groups whereby individual group members stress the other group members’ needs when carrying out their duties. The social principle of collectivism plays a major role in ensuring the success of Japanese business enterprises. American companies contemplating venturing into Japanese markets must, therefore, adopt this culture to succeed. Moreover, the Japanese embrace the spirit of nationalism. THrough nationalism, Japanese consumers have been loyal to consuming their internally manufactured products. Japanese are celebrated for the virtues of loyalty and honesty to business organizations. Therefore, it becomes almost impossible for businesses to lose their customers after establishing a good relationship with consumers. American investors ought to vest on setting up strong business relationships with the consumers to survive in the Japanese markets.
Every country in the world has unique values and beliefs that make up its national culture. This, however, does not imply that countries do not share values and cultures; they do. There is no duality or dichotomy on matters of culture. What exists is a continuum between cultures. But while cultures do share values a lot, there are also differences. Cultures worldwide differ from one another to the extent that what is normal in one place may be considered completely unacceptable in another country. Because of differences in national cultures, it can be very difficult for someone from one culture to do business with someone else from a different culture. For example, Western countries usually find it difficult to do business with Asians because of Western culture and many Asian cultures. Even among Asians, it is sometimes difficult for Asians from different cultures to easily do business (Garcia, 2015).
This paper investigates Japanese culture, its effects on business, and how it can include foreigners to do business more successfully in Japanese society. The paper will first analyze the main dimensions and elements of Japanese culture. It will then look at the integration between culture and business in Japan. The paper will then compare the different elements and dimensions of Japanese culture with American culture. Lastly, the paper will look at the implications of comparing American businesses, which wish to do business in the country.
Research Question 1: What are the major elements and dimensions of culture in this region?
Several dimensions of Japanese culture have a significant impact on business in Japan. They include values, attitudes, social structure, ethics, religion, and communication (Smith et al., 2013). In Japan, communication is heavily characterized by subtlety and nuance. The way individuals present themselves, portray themselves, and talk significantly affects business, especially business negotiations. Generally, the Japanese prefer homogeneity and do the most they can to minimize competition with counterparts. This is why many businesses in the country are organized as groups with group members looking out for one another (Smith et al., 2013). These are but some of the ways Japanese culture affects business. What is very important to know about Japanese culture is that it is extremely contextualized. For this reason, in business talks or negotiations, the Japanese usually rely both on what one says and what one does not say (one’s nonverbal cues).
Because Japanese culture is highly contextualized, communication in the country includes much more than what is verbally said. While spoken words are important, what is not said is also important and must be considered to get the complete meaning or message of whatever is being discussed. The country’s culture is largely characterized by subtlety and nuance. In the culture, one’s thoughts, sentiments, and appearance are quite isolated. Generally, the difference between thoughts and sentiments is usually huge (Takei & Alston, 2018). For this reason, context usually helps to better understand what is being said.
Simply put, understanding nonverbal communication is important in understanding verbal communication. This is especially true when communication occurs via a translator because the translator can translate a message wrongly, which can have negative consequences. Therefore, observing nonverbal cues is important. In addition to nonverbal cues, because Japan is a high-context country, even silence is considered maturity, and business negotiations progress.
Japanese society is very homogenous. This is why Japanese (Nihongo) is very dominant in the country; about 99 percent of its population uses the language (Okamoto & Shibamoto-Smith, 2016). The Japanese language is related to the Korean language, but this does not mean that a speaker of the opposite language can easily understand one of the two languages. In the nineteenth century, the country’s reformation era eliminated regional Japanese dialects for a common national language. The dialect that ended up being adopted by the authorities and Japan as the standard Japanese language was the Tokyo dialect hyojungo. This dialect was primarily used by warriors in Tokyo (Okamoto & Shibamoto-Smith, 2016). However, in places such as Osaka and Kyoto, regional dialects still exist. Nevertheless, standard Japanese remains popular because of its use in the mainstream media and by most people around the country.
Despite most of Japan speaking the same language, there remains a difference between what is expressed and what is meant in the country. The Japanese, however, easily read both verbal and non-verbal cues when communicating to get the full meaning of what is being said. Individuals with a poor understanding of Japanese culture sometimes struggle in communication (Takei & Alston, 2018). Most of the time, such individuals have to repeatedly question what is said to clarify whether they are on the same page with the speaker.
Japan has very different religious traditions compared to the Western World. The country’s religious traditions are products of centuries of religious movements and changes in the country. They are an integration of several schools of thought. According to religious scholars, syncretism is the cornerstone of the religious history of Japan. Shinto (a Japanese traditional religion) and Buddhism merged after introducing the latter in Japan during the sixth century.
Moreover, because Confucianism is closely related to Buddhism, it is also a part of Japanese religious traditions (Garcia, 2015). Religious traditions and philosophical thoughts from the rules that most Japanese use as guidelines for life and making important decisions. In other words, the line between religious traditions and philosophical thoughts in Japan is blurred.
In Japanese, though, there is a lot of emphasis on what is important for day-to-day life. Confucianism, Zen Buddhism, and Shinto are three religious traditions that focus on guiding individuals’ behavior in the present life. For this reason, these traditions heavily influence how the Japanese do business. Moreover, the choice to do business is usually informed by such traditions, and they determine the mindset of the business people. Several cultural practices in the country’s business environment are products of the three main religious and philosophical traditions. Moreover, many Japanese judges or analyze their conduct as well as tha of other people.
Due to the close relationship between philosophy and religion in Japan, Japanese people are known to follow different religions simultaneously from time to time. This has made it difficult for foreigners to understand or predict reactions or moves. Japanese’s religious traditions have helped many business people in the country to face challenges better and steer their businesses properly through business profiles (Saito, 2018). The Japanese indigenous religion, Shinto/ Shintoism, focuses on making people live pious lives. It also focuses on or gives special attention to the environment, water bodies, streams, and trees. Having this knowledge can help foreigners better understand how to do business in Japan and what not to do.
Japan has a unique approach to ethics. The pillars of Japanese ethics are “social responsibility” and “fairness.” However, these pillars have to be understood not in the Western context but the Japanese context. The Japanese view of ethics is bound by the social dimension (concentric circles) and religious dimension (two normative environments). The religious dimension (two normative environments) is largely influenced by Shintoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and other Japanese religions. They stress the need for people and groups to have their spirit. The belief is that the spirit is linked to true reality. The social dimension entails the concentric circles’ approach that allows individuals to apply unique rules in each circle/ situation. Because of Japanese tradition’s uniqueness, the way ethics is approached quite different from how ethics is approached in the Western world by both persons and their corporations (Yamamoto & Lloyd, 2019).
Values and Attitudes
In the Japanese culture, core values include teamwork, knowing your role and responsibilities, acknowledging and respecting elders, not giving up easily, working hard and smart, and empathy (thinking about others). These core values are taught both directly and indirectly from the pre-school level straight to the corporate world. For example, from the moment they can understand things, Japanese children are often taught about empathy (omoiyari). As time goes by, students get to the level where they must do university entrance exams. To prepare for the exams, students usually study hard for them. In the process of studying, they learn that values such as gaman (the ability to endure) and ganbaru (effort) are more important in achieving goals than talent or ability (Nguyen, 2016). In all social situations in Japan, sibling rank, gender, age, status, and identity influence what is right or not right to say. The clear social roles in Japanese society provide comfort and security and provide a feeling of unity.
The Japanese love work. They love putting in effort in whatever they do. In most cases, it has been reported that they usually give up all social life and personal life to concentrate fully on work. They do the best in whatever role they are in. Japanese people who realize they did not do the best in whatever work or duty they were assigned usually feel very disappointed (Matsusaka, 2020). According to the Japanese, their desire to do the best or seek perfection in various ways is important for them and those they work with. The belief in the country is that nobody should be told to put in more effort; everyone should automatically know that they need to work hard and push themselves to the maximum limit. Because of the value of hard work in Japanese culture, they generally do not have a lot of recreational time. Even free personal time is often sacrificed to do more work at the office or home.
Manners are very important in Japan. Lack of proper manners in the country is highly frowned upon. For example, people bow to greet one another. People also remove their shoes when entering the home of someone. Entry into some historic buildings, castles, temples, restaurants, and inns also requires removing shoes (Marchiori, CarraherandStiles, 2014). Many traditional restaurants have traditional Japanese low tables. To eat at such a table, one is normally expected to sit on a zashiki pillow. Many of the traditional or popular foods in Japan are eaten using chopsticks. The chopsticks are supposed to be held at the end, not the middle of the front third, as most Westerners do it. After eating, a simple thank you is enough and normally expected. Tipping is not expected and can be considered disrespectful.
Giving a gift is a key part of the national culture of the Japanese. However, not all gifts are the same and can be given at any time. There are different types of gifts for different types of occasions. Normally, gifts are given when well-wrapped. Gifts that are not wrapped need to be in a nice bag (Marchiori et al., 2014).Concerning conversation, Japanese people are not loud, especially in public. They speak in low voices even when on mobile phones. In shops and trains, the Japanese generally do not receive phone calls. They put their phones on vibrate and only speak when they are outside trains. This links well with their core value of thinking about others.
Social Structures and Organizations
The Japanese culture has six classes the peasants, the industrial proletariat, the lower middle class, the upper-middle class, the nobility, and the Imperial Family. As one would expect, the Imperial Family is the uppermost social class. It is restricted to the Emperor and his family. The nobility is the second uppermost class. It has three sub-groups referred to as Kuge, Daimyo, and New Nobility. The Kuge sub-group is made up of relatives of officials who used to be in the old imperial courts; the Daimyo sub-group is made up of relatives of dukes who ruled Japan after the 17th century, while the New Nobility sub-group is made up of relatives of Japanese warriors/ Samurai who emerged after 1868 (Kono, 2016). The New Nobility is also made up of people who have climbed from other social groups in recent decades or years because of achievements. It is the social group/ sub-group with the highest social standing after the Imperial family.
The upper-middle-class group is separated into two sub-groups the top-positioning civil servants and the refined man gathering. The top positioning civil servants are government officials in top administrative posts. Simultaneously, the refined man gathering has achieved a lot in academia, top professions, and other areas. The lower-middle-class group has individuals like shop owners and ordinary business people. The industrial proletariat is the working-class people. They are those who go to cities to work and produce. They and the peasant farmers in the countryside have very little social standing.
The military in Japan is not part of the ordinary social structure. Military men and women have their social structure, which can be climbed by those who distinguish themselves (Sugimura & Mizokami, 2013, 144). In today’s modern Japan, women have the same legal rights as men. However, when couples have children, women are expected to spend the most time caring for them.
The country’s education system is quite similar to the American education system. The current law regulating education in the country was passed during the country’s American occupation after World War II. The law introduced a system of education with a 6+3+3+4. This means six years in elementary school, three years in junior high school, three years in senior high school, and four years in university.
The Japanese system of education is said to be one of the best in the world. The students usually have higher scores in sciences, mathematics, and reading literacy than students from other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations worldwide. As of 2015, Japanese students had the third-highest average student scoring among OECD countries (OECD, 2018).Japanese students’ high scores are attributed to its great education system and the fact that hard work is a coe value in the country’s culture.
Nearly the entire population of Japan is extremely well-educated. Society values education because it is an important determinant of future socioeconomic status. It is an important and necessary route for those who want to join one of the country’s top technology companies. The country’s highly educated and highly skilled populace has been responsible for its impressive economic growth after being devastated by the Second World War (OECD, 2014).
Research Question 2: How are these elements and dimensions integrated by locals conducting business in the nation?
Standard Japanese communication is the same communication that is utilized in Japanese business communications. There is what is being said verbally and what is being said nonverbally. Both are important for understanding what the speaker wants to communicate. Therefore, it is very important to listen to what one is saying verbally and look out for nonverbal cues to comprehend the message (Garcia, 2015). People in Japan are very watchful to try and understand what someone else is saying. The main language of communication in Japan is standard Japanese. It is also the language of commerce. Standard Japanese is important for business, especially during negotiations, to ensure parties understand each other completely.
The Japanese religion of Shintoism and integrated Zen Buddhism has a strong influence on how Japan’s people do business. The two religions make Japanese people seek a more pious life on earth. This influences their conduct. For example, competition among colleagues is not commonplace. Moreover, hard work is commonplace because individuals believe that working hard conforms with Japanese culture (Akita, 2010, 90).
Ethics in Japanese businesses are significantly influenced by Japanese culture. Japanese professionals are required to be subordinate to their organizations and countries. If a professional or group of professionals does not do what is expected of them and fails their organization, they are typically not seen in good light (Yamamoto & Lloyd, 2019). In many cases, significant failure is almost always followed by resignation. Organizations are also expected to follow moral guidelines. They are expected to work hard and engage in useful, legal, and beneficial transactions. Organizations that fail to do so usually face negative outcomes that can include penalties or criminal prosecution.
Values and Attitudes
The values and attitudes of Japanese culture influence how business is done. Japanese business etiquette demands great conduct, honesty, and politeness. The Japanese do business in a very formal way. Business meetings often commence with the exchange of business cards. The business cards are usually held by two hands when being exchanged. The senior party hands over their business card first, and this is usually done with a slight bow. Once a business card is received, it should be held with two hands and placed on the table. It should also be treated with respect, not just put in the wallet. Japanese value time and like to keep time. Therefore, if one is running late for a meeting, it is important to call early and inform the other party what they expect to happen. Lastly, during meetings, it is crucial to take notes. Because taking notes demonstrates seriousness and good organization (Akita, 2010, 90).
Good manners in Japan are characterized by bowing. People bow a lot in Japan, even in business. It is common for a young person to bow to a senior person to show respect. The bow is often about 30 degrees from the vertical and happens at the waist. Women can cross their hands while bowing, but men are expected to keep their hands by their sides. When a bow greets a senior person, they should acknowledge it with a slight blow. Eye contact is not expected and is considered bad manners when bowing to someone. It is only in martial arts that bowing can be done with eye contact. And after bowing in a business meeting, a verbal greeting should first be directed to the oldest person. Shaking hands is also allowed in Japan. It is often done in place of bowing. Shaking hands and bowing at the same time is not okay.
An initial business meeting usually begins with the exchange of business cards. The giver usually starts standing and handing over their card with both hands and bowing slightly during the exchange. The receiver usually gives their card after receiving one (Takei & Alston, 2018). After receiving a business card, one is expected to take several moments to read what’s on it and make a few positive comments if there is time. After doing so, one is expected to place the card on top of the table in front of them.
For Japanese people, appearance is quite important. For this reason, meetings are typically attended in official business attire. The attire is typically conservative. Men generally wear white shirts and black or dark business suits. Women dress conservatively and in non-bright colors (De Mente, 2011). Wearing jewelry is not considered good manners for business meetings. Speaking in a low voice with minimal hand movements is valued in Japanese culture, and so is modesty and humility.
Social Structures and Organizations
Social classes are present in Japanese business. The executives and owners of businesses are the upper working class. The retailers and skilled workers are the lower working classes. Like the Japanese people, Japanese organizations have classes (Sekiguchi & Matsuba, 1975, 72). Class, however, does not affect day-to-day business operations. Japanese typically tend to co-operate and work together rather than engage in a high level of competition. While Japanese ladies have the same legal rights as men, they are not valued as workers because they are expected to leave work when they get married. Moreover, their average pay is only about 50 percent of Japanese men’s average pay.
Education is highly valued in the country because it is important for socioeconomic mobility and supplies skilled workers to many top tech companies. Apart from formal education, companies also train their staff regularly to improve their skills. Japanese culture teaches perseverance, diligence, and hard work as important values for academic and life success (Satterlee, 2018). The country’s highly innovative technology and manufacturing industries indicate how much the country’s values education.
Research Question 3: How do both of the above items compare with the United States culture and business?
The way the Japanese communicate is very different from how Americans communicate. For the Japanese, both verbal and non-verbal aspects are important to understand what is being discussed. In contrast, for the Americans, only verbal and straight communication is typically expected (Liu et al., 2020). Because of this difference in communication, miscommunication is possible between Americans and the Japanese (Guirdham, 2011). Miscommunication can also happen between the Japanese and the Americans because of the differences in Japanese and American cultures. For instance, while Japanese business persons and organizations typically seek mutually beneficial long-term relationships, Americans typically seek short term relationships. Americans also tend to be more individualistic than the Japanese. Lastly, miscommunication can also be caused by differences in language. Not many Americans speak fluent Japanese. Also, not many Japanese speak fluent English. When Japanese and American business persons speak without a professional translator’s help, messages or meanings can be misconstrued, leading to communication breakdown.
Christianity is the main religion in America. Only 0.7 percent of Americans are Buddhist (Mitchell, 2016). In contrast, 84 percent of Japanese are Buddhist/ Shintoist. The differences in religion mean contrasting religious beliefs and convictions. This can result in misunderstandings or disagreements. However, in business, most people usually let matters of religion to take a backseat. Moreover, both Christianity and Buddhism teach tolerance for believers of different religions, so religion is not a common cause of business disagreements.
America’s Business Ethics Index (BEI) is the same as that of Japan. In other words, American businesses conduct themselves with just about the same ethics as Japanese businesses. There are organizations in both countries that have acted unethically, e.g., Liverdoor in Japan and Enron (Seki & Clarke, 2013). However, businesses in both countries generally conduct themselves ethically. The biggest contrast in terms of ethics between American and Japanese businesses is that American businesses are individualistic, while Japanese businesses have no issues cooperating extensively (Leung et al., 2005, 354). Because American and Japanese businesses are very much alike ethically, there is no need for business persons from either country to engage in moral muddling.
There is a varying disparity in the way of behavior and comportment between Americans and Japanese. The most remarkable thrust for the difference is the American people’s autonomy instead of the Japanese’s organization. America aspires to build its reputation. On the other hand, Japan is obsessed with how they impact people around them while carrying out their enterprises. According to (Lohtia, Bello & Porter, 2009), the most significant focus of the Japanese is the consensus and synergy instead of the inverted pyramidal decision-making that embodies western models of order. Japanese have a more legitimate standpoint and acknowledgment; however, it is essential to accolade both America and Japan. Typically, Americans find it impertinent to look at someone without recoil, and such an act is associated with guilt or that a person is trying to cover up something. However, the Japanese foul their eyes to show attention. As much as there may be disparities in culture, character, and mentality, American institutions should not find it problematic to research and understand Japanese nationals’ inclinations and qualities.
The social construct of the Americans is far much different from those of the Japanese. Americans could be embracing the structure of social classes divided into the classes of the privileged, upper center, lower center, and the lower class. The elite and the lower class’s implication is of the rich and the poor people, respectively. In the United States, there is neither autonomy nor jurisdiction, unlike in Japan. The privileged and the working are prioritized since both the Chiefs and business specialists are found around their residential. America’s dream dreams and aspirations are tied to an individual’s ambitions to advance up the ladder of social classes. This is the metric of hard work and a show of improvement. This is the point of difference between the Japanese and the Americans. Japanese are aware of their social position and public reputation, and they will maintain this in a lifetime unless one is absorbed in the military. Women in American have shown massive progress and breakthrough in the US (Kono, 2016). A lot of women in the United States are in higher orientations in the positions of power. This is challenging for American women in Japan since women are not highly regarded in Japan when it comes to higher positions. Similarly, it becomes burdensome to American women when administering tasks to their male counterparts from Japan. In most cases, they fall victim to harass, being referred to as men of privileges.
The education system that ran in Japan is the Confucian system (Hofstede & Bond, 1988). This system’s primary focus is the advocacy for the existing lopsided relationship and the particular requirement of the individual groups. Therefore, this system leads to social scales, collectivism, and priorities in corporate meetings in different business organizations. Similarly, Americans also apply the principle of Confucianism vitality when tackling circumstances perturbing their business. This formality is exhibited in decision-making whereby a conventional channeled is followed by business leaders to consult other staff before policymaking. Americans are as well inclined on the biblical edification on hard work. According to the biblical book of Ruth 2:12, “May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” This justifies the American philosophy of the source of reward affiliated to handwork and trusting in God (Kaps, 2017). Either way, it gets meaningless to trust in God and not work hard. Americans ascertain their handwork by sometimes deciding to work by themselves. This is the reason for the finite groups in most of the businesses owned by Americans. It becomes difficult for them to diagnose the individual’s contribution to the company’s common goal when working in groups.
There are possibilities of other cultures influencing the US culture. A transparent way is the intensifying universality of organizations embracing groups and teams. On the other hand, the Japanese’s traditional culture has received criticism for being masculine, chauvinistic, long-term oriented, and propagate collectivism. The interaction of Japan with the western countries has, however, changed their perception. They have embraced individualism, feminism, and short-term orientation. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions establish this as the rubric and compare the results against the original samples (Hofstede, 2001). Organizations across the globe can assess their home culture’s disparity with the host nation’s culture using the Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions.
Japan excelled in the Power Distance Index. This signifies that most organizations and institutions in Japan recognize the unequal distribution and conveyance of power. However, a critical about-turn is yet to be witnessed. This is after the recent elections of 2009 where the Democratic Party of Japan won. The party promised to plunge the tyrants (Bergiel, Bergiel & Upson, 2012). The evident power change and denigration acknowledge that Japan is no longer lenient to power distance. This is a borrowed culture of the US.
American perfected the aspect and principle of Individualism measurement. Japanese are more into communalism, whereas Americans’ concerns are individual persons. Initially, the critical driving force for the tolerance of collective social structure in Japan was the capability to employ its citizens. Contrary to this desire, it is evident that the celebrated employer-employee relationship is getting edgy. Historically, the US has fostered individualism, and its main goal has been to boost individual entrepreneurs’ efforts and success. With the advent of the “self-made man” image America is lately accustomed to, this individualism is leaching away (Bergiel et al., 2012). The focus has shifted to communal philosophies such as welfare and social security.
Japan performed exclusively on the metrics of masculinity. This demonstrates that there is a divide between the quality of both men and women in Japan. Geert’s research shows that the values and qualities are rooted in confidence and focus while women are affiliated with well-mannered and caring attributes. In both US and Japan, the equal performance of different tasks by all genders is becoming routine. In the US, this evolution was experienced in its early 20th century. However, the same change is just beginning in Japan (Bergiel et al., 2012). This can be a cultural division on the perception of feminism that is swaying both cultures.
In the metrics of Uncertainty Avoidance, the Japanese again excelled. This principle Index is based on the ability of the general public to tolerate vulnerability and ambiguity. The Japanese nationals can hardly withstand baseless structures and incidences whose culminatins are not clear. Countries whose Uncertainty Avoidance Index are high tend to avoid and downscale the risks by formulating stringent laws. Historically, the United States was a risk-taker. This has changed since recent trends have seen its citizens avoiding any possible risks. The threats experienced by the housing bubble burst, the 2007-2009 recession, and the decline of the stock exchange market have seen most citizens looking for safer returns and secure investment recoil (Bergiel et al., 2012). The fear of being economically inferior to other nations has also motivated the Americans to act on prior defense and conservativeness to avoid vulnerability and any risks.
Long term orientation is also a point of difference between these two nations. Japan ranked higher than the US in the Long-Term orientation metrics. The philosophies connected with the Lon-Term Orientation are prudence and relentlessness. However, short-term orientation is associated with the satisfaction of social obligations, custom acknowledgment, and reputation. Japan is obstructed with issues that can escalate its long-term Orientation to the short-term. The society aging is affecting Japan a great deal. Its working-age population has slowed down for about the last 15 years (Bergiel et al., 2012).
To remain economically relevant and viable while operating in Japan, US businesses should consider the five metrics to evaluate Japanese culture better. Cultural influence, borrowing, and alteration are fated with the uprise of globalization. With the evolution of these cultures, it is crucial to stay vigilant and predisposed to emerging circumstances. It is remarkable to note that most of these alterations have taken place in the recent past.
Research Question 4: What are the implications for United States businesses that wish to conduct business in that region?
The proper understanding of the antagonistic party’s background is influences success within the paradigms of business interactions. The same is applicable in international business, whereby it is essential to apprehend a particular nation’s culture and business practices before starting on negotiation. This aspect results in diverse inferences that must be appropriately evaluated for the business to thrive.
Communication specialists must play their roles diligently, and proper understanding is established during the negotiations with Japan nationals. In most cases, the Japanese neither tolerate nor welcome external invasions and foreigners into their business space. This is due to their collective and communal structure. Therefore, Americans aspiring to set up businesses in Japan or trade with the Japanese must lower their expectations or adopt some cultural similarities and models to survive Czinkota & Kotabe, 2000).
It is also important to understand the particular verbal and non-verbal communication. Japanese prefer the storage of their negotiations in human memory. This is influenced by the nature of their language, which is difficult to write. However, America does not acknowledge this trend since verbal agreements are lowly regarded during business negotiations and contract writing. Non- verbal cues and body language is also another important aspect. Reading between the lines and body language examination should be the most powerful tool an American businessman possesses when negotiating with a Japanese fellow. This is to eliminate the possibility of misunderstanding during negotiations or in case of a rejection.
An American business person needs to regard the religious dimensions and be acquitted with its antecedents in Japan before starting any formal negotiations with a Japanese. This is because of the influx of religious beliefs in almost all aspects of life in Japanese culture. Americans should understand that there are limits of aggressiveness and degree of argument among Japanese nationals. This is because aggression and confrontations can result in legal actions against Confucius’s divine teachings (Parry, 2007).
Confucianism is quite cynical about the law and legal actions as it is believed that encouraging integrity and morality is the best practice for conflict resolution among opposing parties (p. 106). Confucians are inclined to the communal doctrine of togetherness, and therefore, there would be no essence of law to guide and rule people. Americans doing business in Japan are most likely affect so badly by their principles and doctrines of nationalism. The Japanese have a philosophy of patriotism and believe that their locally manufactured products are superior to those imported. This can hinder them from buying goods from American nationals. Americans may be stocking Japan manufactured goods, but because non-Japan foreigners operate the stores, there can be an assumption their products being imported (Yi, 2018).
American Companies dealing in consumer foods may experience recession and greater loss since obvious Japanese nationals would shy away from buying from them. This ardent culture of nationalism is a determinant of the American businessmen’s products’ specifics wishes to stock when doing business in Japan. On rare occasions, will Japanese buy food products from a foreigner’s store? Therefore, it is next to impossible for Americans business people running food stores in Japan to thrive. However, the Japanese’s philosophy of collectivism may be of great convenience to potential American investors hoping to venture into Japan.
Collectivism encourages collaboration and discourages social laziness within institutions and businesses. Employees’ association and desire for teamwork are discouraged by the Americans’ culture of individualism (Takano & Osaka, 2018). This may have a negative influence on productivity as employees feel ousted and not part of the company. Americans aspiring to invest in Japan can merit improved employee productivity if they adopt and embrace collectivism’s Japanese culture.
The communal and integral benefit of collectivism is teamwork and the drive of each individual working for the good of themselves, their group, and the company’s common goal. However, there is the potential disparity of doing business in a different culture. The contrast between performance and tradition possibly arise. It is a normal American culture to salute one with a firm handshake and look straight into the other’s eye without guilt and nervousness. This is different in Japan, whereby salutation is administered in the form of a bowing down, face, and eyes looking at the ground and hands by their sides. Japanese appreciate the fact that
Western countries are much into handshake as a salutation, and that is why they will offer it as a sense of welcome even though it is always a weak one. Americans are culturally allowed to hold a higher position of power within various institutions and be only mindful of their tenacity. This is not Japan’s case as culture dictates that age should be equivalent to a person’s position and power rank. Both the culture of the US and Japan acknowledge adept use of professional job titles informality. The titles, Mr. and Ms., is replaced by San among Japanese. The concept of business cards is acknowledged in both cultures; however, this is an alternative among Japanese, as noted earlier. Therefore, American business people must have their business cards printed in the two languages on each side.
For an individual to accept these business cards and look through them, they certainly have investments or similar plans. The card should neither be placed in a wallet nor a back pocket. Everyone is allowed to request beverage refreshment in the US. This trait is not applicable in Japan. It is a rule for the host to request refreshments and main meals on behalf of everybody since they must pay the food bill. Americans do not appreciate silence as much as the Japanese do. It is significant to observe the dress code among the Japanese. Americans are also sensitive and proud of their way of dress even though it can be poles apart from the Japanese’s customary. Sparky colors, bold plans, and obtrusive garnets are avoided as the culture does not allow such. Exposing dresses are discouraged among ladies in business settings as the lengthy coverings and skirts are highly regarded. The disparity in Japanese and Americans’ culture can effectively stimulate business ties among the two cultures. This can see their organizations thrive (Etiquette, 2010).
Structure organization and delivering capabilities
Humour marketability, character development, and reputation
Geeky culture in territorial expansion
Advancement of televised household market
Generational structure and the spike on TV programs.
Advanced system structure abilities (Takeshi’s Castle, SASUKE, Iron Chef, Thirty-one-legged race by thirty individuals, Brain Wall, etc.)
Global exposure and experience
Under-maturity of household substance market especially television market
High expenses encounter as opposed to aggressiveness and productivity when operating abroad.
Lack of progressive approaches and network expertise for product offers while operating abroad.
The disparity of censoring of TV programs abroad for particular groups of people like adolescents.
Mismatch in tradition and business culture
The title regards differences in the various arrangement.
Japanese contents failed to generate profitability abroad.
The deviance in the GDP and GDP per capita
Alteration of and portable systems and high internet censoring
Administrative dispersal. For instance, LINE and Nicovideo.
The influx of Japanese overseas markets with increasing ad support abroad.
Esteem and regard for the Japanese and their products abroad. (Cool Japan)
The support Japanese get from the government for venturing abroad, as seen in Creative Business and Cool Japan.
Ethnic demerits and language barriers
Maturing and suppression.
Economic disadvantage of growth.
Lack of viewership in TV and popularity among adolescents and the advent of social media.
Government assistance extension requirement on daring abroad.
Competition from similar enterprises discourages venture into the markets abroad.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Analysis
Japan’s FDI flow is unstable and lower than that of most first world countries across the globe. The statistics by the UNCTAD’s 2020 World Investment Report (UNCTAD, 2020) revealed that the FDI spiked from USD 9.8 billion in 2018 to USD 14.5 billion in 2019. In 2019, Japan’s estimated FDI stock was at an approximation of about USD 222.5 billion. This indicates that Japan was an investment giant in the entire world as it experienced a 58% growth in its multinational investment. This has spiked its cumulative investment to $227 billion and has resulted from appropriation and cross-border mergers. This trend has seen multinational Japanese double their investment in Noth America and Europe. They focused mainly on investing in South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, and these countries typify about 85% of their inflow in terms of FDI. The investment’s significant focus is on chemicals and pharmaceuticals, real estate, electric machinery, insurance and finance, and transport equipment productions.
According to the World Bank’s2020 Doing Business report, Japan increased in rank from 39th position in 2019 to 29th position in 2020 out of 190 countries. The country has massive external indicators and a substantial net foreign creditor position. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled a pro-global business policy. It reiterated the frameworks Japan is laying to create an enabling environment for global investors. The country takes pride in leadership in R&D and advanced technology. The latent obstruction to investment is limited to linguistics, culture, and demography. However, foreign investors are scared away by the health and environmental concerns that are inclined towards Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, together with the tsunami and earthquake disaster that hit Japan in 2011. Despite all these misfortunes, Japan remains a huge investor market. The country accumulated surplus savings in the past years and uses its finances to rebuild itself without straining. The Prime Minister has formulated strategies that will see the FDI flow double its 2012 figures in 2020. The government has ensured a conducive investment environment through; unveiling R&D centers, reducing corporate tax, and establishing special economic zones. In 2018, the US foreign direct FDI in Japan in terms of stock was $125.5 billion (“Japan,” 2020). This is a 2.8% decrease from what it experienced in 2017. The focus of investment of the US within Japan boards is manufacture, information services, and insurance. US affiliates sold services worth $74.6 billion while in Japan in 2017. (“Japan,” 2020).
The most recognized test for universal administration is in social correspondence, diversity, and overlooking social disparity. This way, businesses can thrive. Administrators’ ability to blend well and productively engage individuals of diverse nationalities dictates the failure to achieve these businesses. This shows their social acceptance, diversity, and acknowledgment of differences. The universal business considers the global space’s outgrowth and overpowering the global barriers and understanding the monetary indicators to suitably blend in different markets in different countries. The Japanese culture is stringent but still welcomes investors. They are unpredictable, though. However, Americans can exploit the Japanese markets. Japanese have appropriately mitigated the possibility of the financial crisis, and Americans can take advantage of this. The business culture is also welcoming than that of the Americans. The problem with Americans is an enormous focus on profitability than on building business networks. Americans should, therefore, research their business associates and learn from them. America has consequently proven radical than Japan. Americans can thrive more when they work closely with Japan. A great deal of research and planning can thus be guaranteed from which can yield extraordinary results.
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