The Japanese do not really undertake training sessions on teambuilding — they are naturally group-oriented which underlies the need for a truly consensus approach to issues.

The consensus-building process or nemawashi (literally root binding) determines that agreement is sought before a formal meeting in order to avoid any direct confrontation. Thus arriving at a meeting expecting issues to be thrashed out in a direct and forthright manner will almost always lead to disappointment.

It is also important that group members maintain face in front of other group members, which amongst other things means that people must be seen to be modest and humble. Self-promotion in the western sense is seen as childish and embarrassing behaviour.

The group or groups to which a person belongs are a life-defining set of relationships and the importance of these group relationships should never be underestimated. Therefore, Japanese businessmen (and women) will often socialise in teams after work. Dinner and drinks are an important work and social function and should be encouraged.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Japan

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton



This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Japan. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Japan and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips