JAPAN
NEGOTIATION & DECISION-MAKING
 
 
 
 
 

NEGOTIATION

Negotiating
When negotiating in Japan, a person should be very familiar with the Japanese Customs. Getting acquainted is very important during the first meeting. A person should not talk business during the initial meeting, unless you have a time constraint, in that case business should only be discussed when at least 15 minutes have passed or the Japanese person says "Jitsu wa ne..." ("the fact of the matter is...").  Building relationships in Japan are important because Japanese rely on their feelings rather than empirical evidence. Having connections are very important in Japan. If you can request a consultation with an important and highly respected individual in Japan, you can then use his/her endorsement and connection to further your business efforts. Business Cards are also an important part of doing business in Japan. They are the key for establishing credentials. They are highly respected by the Japanese and should be cared for with respect. Also in Japan, age equals rank, so be very respectful to older Japanese counterparts.
Remember, the Japanese people are quiet and low-key individuals and when having negotiations these manners are expected. Be sure to not show anger or make accusations or direct refusals. Remaining indirect until all negotiating has occurred is better.
A very important point to remember is the group is thought of higher than individuals. Always direct information to the group and do not single out individuals. Appealing to the entire group could prove more beneficial than convincing an individual. Make sure you have done your homework on the company and its atmosphere and culture. And finally, always be patient. The decision-making process can take as long as one to three years depending on the topic of discussion. The Japanese prefer oral agreements rather than written ones and contracts can always be renegotiated. 
Learning the art of "ZEN" can help you to understand better why the Japanese do certain things or think certain ways.
Description Of Negotiator
 In Japan, it is very important to negotiate with someone of your same rank in the company. The Japanese negotiator will be subtle, quiet, and polite. He/she will hide their emotions. Loyalty is very important in Japan, so the negotiator will not agree to anything that may harm the company. Japanese negotiators are influenced by their special interests which is why relationship building is essential. The Japanese also do not like to be embarrassed and will make decisions based on "face-saving." The ultimate goal is to make decisions for the "good of the group." Japanese negotiators may appear to be asleep during a meeting but they are actually intensely listening to the information they are receiving.

 

DECISION-MAKING

Risk Tolerance
The Japanese will make risky decisions if they feel it could help the group, company, or the country. They will not make risky decisions if they do not have enough information about the situation. Japanese thrive on education and knowing all the possible outcomes for a decision.
Locus Of Control
 The Japanese base decisions on a long-term perspective of all the information. So much research and group discussion has gone into the process for making a decision, that they know all the possible outcomes for any decision they may make. (See also Interview - Japan - Cultural Differences)
Autocratic Leadership vs. Participative Leadership
 The Japanese practice Participative Leadership. A proposal will go through different levels in the organization for approval. Once the proposal has many seals of approval from individuals at different management levels in the organization, the proposal has a greater chance for a final approval by the president of the company.
Collectivist vs. Individualistic
 The group is very important in Japan. Most decisions are based on what is best for the group or a group consensus. The Japanese orientation is Collectivist.
Objective Approach vs. Subjective Approach
 Emotions are very important in the Japanese culture. Many of their decisions are influenced by these emotions and feelings. Therefore Japan's decision making is affected by the subjective approach.
Moral Idealism vs. Utilitarianism
 The Japanese are also influenced by Moral Idealism. Most of their decisions are based on how it will affect the overall goals and strategies of the company in the long run. Proposals go through a long process of research, discussion, alternative solutions, and outcomes on different levels of the organization before they are considered for approval. The decision is only made if the president knows how it will ultimately affect the company as a whole.

 

SOURCES
http://www.executiveplanet.com
Deresky, Helen. International Management. Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 2000.
Miyakoda, Tooru. Interview. February, 2002.