My “Taken for granted” is not the same as yours — Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan

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The workshop of “Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan” was very resourceful, participated by a good-mixture of European and Japanese people.

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Yoshiko Kurisaki is moderating discussion

Here are a summary of highlights for those who couldn’t come and those who wish to know clues underlying the Japanese business:

  • Culture is like an iceberg. Eighty percent of the iceberg is under the sea and we don’t see it. So called “typical” Japanese culture, such as sushi, high-tech instruments, kimono, bowing, are all the tip of iceberg supported by the rituals, geography, history, values, etc. hidden under the water.
  • Major factors from which Japan is made  — Geographic location and its historical consequences, climate, rice-growing culture and the peace that lasted for 700 years.
  • The Japanese trap — Unconscious bias by the Western managers visiting Japan
  • A significant difference in the meaning of silence and space between Europe and Japan. It was proven that thirty-seconds’ silence is too long and uncomfortable for the Europeans, while nothing in particular for the Japanese.
  • Uchi- Soto“, the way the Japanese position you as a European business partner.
  • Relationship, not individuals, counts

It is worth noting that discussion by participants enriched the workshop, as well as eye-opening exercises.

Listening and observing others without judgement by one’s values is a good start for understanding of other cultures. In doing so it is natural that you may get upset or find someone strange. Such moment is a wonderful opportunity for you to know your own values. Think “Against what criteria am I upset? “

Working across cultures is not always easy but rewarding. Cultural diversity enables 1 + 1 be more than 3, 4 and more, and ultimately leads to the innovation.

Last but not the least, many thanks must go to the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce (SJCC) which invited us for the workshop and Sunstar SA for the nice seminar room and warm reception!

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Veronica De la Fuente

 

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Discussion by participants was a vital part of the workshop

 

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広告

Open Workshop for Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan, Etoy, VD, 20 April

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【Unusual opportunity to know what’s inside a Japanese head】
I am delivering “Workshop for Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan”, an open workshop of Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce (SJCC).

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Are these your problems?

  • “The Japanese decision-making process is so mysterious!”
  • “I don’t know if I’m interacting well with my Japanese colleagues.”
  • “Why do the Japanese always do things in their own way?”
  • “How can I say ‘No’ to my Japanese customers without offending them?”
  • “Japanese customers don’t complain when they are not satisfied with our service, but they just never come back to us.”

If you say “Yes!” to one of the problems above, this workshop is for you. The workshop will enable you to learn about the internal drivers of your Japanese business partners and colleagues.

Topics discussed —

  • Why is culture in business so important?
  • The trap of “cultural bias”
  • Major factors underlying Japanese business culture
  • Five clues to increase productivity in working with the Japanese
  • Your personal action plan

For more detail and registration

  • Date: Thursday, 20 April
    • 18:00 Workshop
    • 20:00 Aperitif and Networking
  • Venue: Sunstar Suisse SA, Route de Pallax 11, 1163 Etoy, VD
  • Fee
    • SJCC Members   CHF 100.-
    • Non-SJCC   CHF 150.-
    • Special Offer: “Come with three, pay for two” — If two people participate from the same organisation, the third person will be free.

For more detail and registration

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Fresh & Hot from Japan, 6 to 13 January 2017

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Happy New Year!

I wish all your dream come true in 2017.

Please enjoy fresh & hot news from Japan with comments by Europe-Japan Dynamics.

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6 Jan . Mr. Tramp criticized Toyota for its plan to build a new factory in Mexico, “Should build it in the US!”

The President Elect Mr. Trump criticized Toyota by his tweet for the company’s plan to build a new factory in Mexico, saying, “You should build it in the US, or otherwise pay a high import tax”.  Having attacked US automobile major, Ford and other companies to stop building relocating factories outside the US, he shot an arrow of criticism to a Japanese company for the first time after the US presidential election.

Comment: Government intervention in economic activities must be done with much care, as economic activities always run before the governments actions in the history.

11 Jan. The new imperial era name to start from 1 Jan. 2019, assuming the abdication on the previous day

The government started examining ways to allow the Crown Prince to succeed to the throne to the new Emperor on January 1, 2019, and to commence the new imperial era name on the same day, following abdication of His Majesty the Emperor. It was judged that the change of an era on the New Year’s Day was desirable to minimize consequences on life of the public.  If things go advance in line with the present plan, the present His Majesty will step down from the throne on December 31, 2018, and the Heisei will close a curtain on the 30th year.

Comments: It should not be forgotten to discuss and establish a set of general rules for the emperor to step down from the throne. Otherwise, one might face the same issues for the next emperor, when the life time of the population is becoming longer and longer.

12 Jan. The Nikkei Average to close with 229 Yen lower, upset by an expression of dissatisfaction by Mr. Trump

Stock price of the Tokyo stock market decreased after an interval of two days due to a mass selling caused by disappointment after a press conference of the President elect, Mr. Trump.

Comments: Would the stock exchange markets continue reaction sensitively to Mr. Trump for the coming four years?

13 Jan. Detection of drowsy driving, health check of cows, etc., an increasing number of wearable terminals are being released to the markets

Toyobo, a textile major, and Union Tool, a vendor of  medical equipment, announced that they had developed the underwear that alerted a driver when it detected that he/she was falling asleep and that the companies planned to put it on sale before the end of this year. The underwear is intended to prevent an accident by having drivers of bus or taxi wear.  An increasing number of clothes-shaped wearable terminals are being developed as they may be worn more naturally than glasses type terminals.

Comments: We’ll be wearing wearable devices in as it is literally meant.

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  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Japanese business culture for international students

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I delivered a class on Japanese business culture to a group of international students studying marketing in a course lead by Professor Masahito Toriyama at Graduate School of Management, Ritsumeikan University.

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In the class, I introduced a method of case exercise based in a real issue. This was a trouble between a Japanese client and an Indian information technology system developer.

Though the Japanese business culture was not a major theme of the students, they did good discussion on the questions associated with the case and reached excellent solutions; such as “I’ll put myself in the Japanese customer’s shoes”, “I’ll make it a habit to talk to my subordinates much more frequently so that our communication will go well.”, etc.

The students deepened their own thoughts through discussion. What a wonderful ability they have!

The real business is full of questions without one correct answer. This even is the case when people having different cultures work together, i.e. the international business. I found that the case exercise was useful to develop a mind-set to look into these questions and find creative solutions that will allow 1 + 1 = 3, 4, 5 … This is the power of discussion, or collective thinking. This attitude is essential for us to benefit from society where a large variety of people live and work together, or diversity in society.

Please find here for your information a power point file used in the class.

Note: The case used here is cited from “Case exercises for business communication, collection os the cases” by Kondoh,Kim et al. (Koko Publishing, 2013).

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Amazing Japan! (2) Stop texting while walking on the platform of subway stations

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This poster I saw in a subway station is not a joke or Science Fiction (SF). A number of people are taking risks and some even got serious accidents in railway stations in Japan every day !

日本に来てビックリ‼️これ、ジョークじゃないんですね。ある地下鉄駅でみかけたポスターです。

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Amazing Japan! (1) No one takes it away

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I stayed in Japan for a few weeks in Dec. 2016 – Jan. 2017 and come across some amazing scenes. I’m noting them here to share my surprise with the readers of my blog, who’d be interested in knowing more about Japan. Please enjoy!

Do you know what’s going on in the snapshot below?
This is the scene I saw on the top floor of a major department store in Ginza, a major shopping district in the middle of Tokyo. A group of three people grabbed a table, left their bags to signal that someone has taken this table, and they went away to buy coffee.

I just couldn’t believe it.

This would not happen in Europe. If it does, someone would take the bags away in a moment.

How safe Japan is and how trustworthy Japanese people are!

銀座三越の最上階、フリースペースで信じられない光景を見ました。ここに休憩に来た3人組の人々、荷物をテーブルにおいてさっさとコーヒーを買いに行ってしまいました。こんなこと、ヨーロッパでは、まずあり得ません。
こんなことしても、荷物を誰かにとられる心配のない日本、安全なんですねえー。

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