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Tokyo Doing Business

Tokyo Business Profile

Presiding over the worlds second largest economy, Tokyo is the governmental, financial and administrative centre of Japan. Quick to embrace modern developments and fashions following the 1868 Meiji Restoration, Tokyo has continued to be at the forefront of trends and technology and remains the countrys most cosmopolitan city. Japans current drive towards economic reform and deregulation was initiated here, and it is here that these measures are having their most immediate effect. Unemployment is well below the countrys 4.4% average, while per capita income is over 40% higher than in other parts of the country.

Most major Japanese companies have their head office in Tokyo, and for foreign companies a presence in Japan generally means a presence in Tokyo. The main business districts are clustered around the National Diet and Ministry buildings to the south and east of the Imperial Palace. The Metropolitan Government is located in West Shinjuku, Tokyos skyscraper office district.

In addition to the emphasis on the service industries and administration, Tokyo is Japans publishing and printing centre, and the busy Tokyo Bay port handles a high proportion of the countrys imports and exports. Recent deregulation has eased market entry for foreign companies, and many are now rushing to enter the Japanese market. Makuhari Messe, halfway between the city centre and Narita Airport, and the new Tokyo Big Sight complex in Tokyo Bay make Tokyo Japans major trade fair venue. After a slow start, the internet is now increasingly important to Japanese businesses. Hotel rooms are usually equipped with a phone line supporting internet use, and many public telephones are equipped with modem jacks.

Tokyo Business Etiquette

While Tokyoites are generally the most cosmopolitan of Japanese, many will be reserved in the company of foreigners, particularly when called upon to speak English. Whereas almost everyone under fifty has some basic knowledge of English, very few are able to speak fluently. Misunderstandings can easily occur and the use of professional interpreters is advised. Foreigners are not expected to understand the complexities of Japanese etiquette and allowances will cheerfully be made. However, it is worth bearing in mind that shoes must be removed on entering homes and some offices and restaurants, and tips are never expected - the practice is considered vulgar, as is eating while walking. Blowing ones nose in public should also be avoided (it is, however, perfectly acceptable to sniff). Business clothes should be smart but conservative and business cards are an essential part of introductions: you will not be taken seriously without them.

It is usual to refer to colleagues by their surnames and hierarchies should be respected. Business negotiations may require patience as directness is mistrusted and disliked, thus straight yes or no answers are generally avoided. Impatience is frowned upon and confrontation is out of the question as it is considered a sign of gross weakness. Apologies and thanks are very important and shouldnt be rushed. Normal business hours are 0900-1700 Monday to Friday.