1.B.3 Cultural Situation

In Japan, majority of the people are Japanese people who solely speak Japanese; this is the only official language in Japan. In terms of ethnic or national composition, Japan is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world (The Translation Company, 2017). Current Japanese culture is a multifaceted and fascinating combination of modernity and tradition. When you visit Japan, you will see the most modern technology and fashion trends, but you can also experience the traditional culture with thousands of years of history. Shinto and Buddhism are the two major religions in Japan (CIA, 2017). However, for most Japanese people today, religion does not play a big role in the everyday life (Kwintessential, 2016). “The average person typically follows the religious rituals at ceremonies like births, weddings and funerals” (Kwintessential, 2016).

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Source: geert-hofstede.com

On the Geert Hofstede country comparison scale, Japan scores high on the Feminine vs. Masculine dimension, with a score of 95. A society with a high score on this dimension indicates that this society is driven by competition, achievement and success (Hofstede, 2017). With such a high score of 95, Japan is one of the most masculine societies in the world. However, in combination with their mild collectivism, you do not see assertive and competitive individual behaviors which we often associate with masculine culture. What you see is a severe competition between groups” (Hofstede, 2017). With this masculine culture, Japanese firms can be very competitive.

Japan also scores high on the Uncertainty Avoidance dimension. With a score of 92, Japan is one of the most risk averse countries in the world. Due to the constant threat of natural disasters, the Japanese people have become a cautious and prepared society (Hofstede, 2017). As a result, the Japanese people do not like change. This may cause some difficulties for new companies that are trying to enter the Japanese market.

Japan has a relatively low score on the Indulgence dimension. With a low score of 42, the Japanese society does not put much emphasis on leisure time and control the gratification of their desires (Hofstede, 2017). This may cause difficulties for SureShade when the company is trying to sell the boat shade systems to recreational boats.

In Japanese society, there are a lot of etiquette and rules. Japanese people are “usually forgiving to outsiders that show an effort to understand the Japanese business etiquette” (Japan Business Resource, 2017). Japanese people care about manners a lot. A conservative demeanor is advisable when doing business in Japan (Japan Business Resource, 2017).

Here are a few key points that should be remembered when doing business in Japan:

  • Seniority is important in Japanese society. Elder people should be respected more when having business meetings. When greeting your Japanese business partners, remember to greet and give your business card to the most senior person first (OPEN Forum, 2013).
  • Do not ask questions about your business partners private issues because Japanese people are notoriously private and reserved. It is very rude and pushy to ask a lot of personal questions at the beginning of the relationship (OPEN Forum, 2013).
  • A business card is an extension of their identity for Japanese business professionals. To show your respect and politeness, accept the business card with both hands from your Japanese business partner, and briefly read it. If you are sitting far away from the person in a group, do not toss the card across the table. Get up and walk over to that person (OPEN Forum, 2013).
  • When entering the room, always wait to be seated, and never be the first one to sit down. Seating positions indicate status in Japanese business etiquette. The highest-ranking person of the group sits at the head of the table furthest away from the door (Japan Business Resource, 2017).

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