Meet Your Company’s Growing Demand for Japanese Language Services
Does your company have an interest in the Japanese market? If so, there’s never been a better time to ally with a professional Japanese language services provider. Granted, the United States has always had a complex relationship with Japan. From a patriotic perspective, the countries are alike in that both consider themselves to be “ichi ban!,” or “Number 1!” – and the citizens of each country take great pride in their homeland. This national pride is both a blessing and a challenge – depending on your goals and what your brand is trying to accomplish – and worth taking into account as you learn to proceed with respect and gentle diligence while pursuing professional ties.
From the geopolitical (think Japan’s proximity to China and Korea) to the technological and economical (note Japan’s pioneering and continued innovations in tech and electronics), as well as the cultural (we’ll all soon be turning our attention towards Japan for the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020), there is a growing demand for Japanese language services.
The question is whether your brand is keeping up with – or ahead of – its competitors, and if it’s time to invest in the right language services provider.
Japan remains an important economic power
Japan may be a small island, but with its 126 million inhabitants, it continues to be an important economic powerhouse. Many Americans only remember Japan’s great recession of the 80s, and have been seduced by the marketing messages of Silicon Valley, not realizing that Japan’s economy has more than “bounced back.”
According to Investopedia, Japan ranks #3 as the world’s richest nation in terms of GDP, only trailing the United States (ranked #1) and China (ranked #2). When considering that the entire country of Japan is roughly the same size as the state of California, that is an impressive ranking.
When you combine the success of the Japanese economy and its younger generations’ affinity with the West (and especially the U.S.), your brand benefits by finding ways to tap into their market.
Note worth pondering: Like in many other countries, most Japanese children do not move out of their parents’ home until they get married. And, because the average age of marriage in industrialized continues to creep up, U.S. companies are wise to find their way into the Japanese demographic of 20- to 30-somethings as they have plenty of expendable cash.
In addition to being a continually effective economic funnel for U.S. products (and culture), Japan is still considered a leader in technological innovation, particularly in the realm of automation. According to a recent article in USA Today, “Japan today is now a top global exporter of industrial robots and, according to the International Federation of Robotics, ranks second in the world by sales after China…”
The need for diplomacy has never been greater
There’s no denying that U.S. relations with China and North Korea are – for lack of a better word – “prickly.” In a recent post about the growing demand for Chinese interpretation and translations services, we wrote that the relationship between the U.S. and China is under extreme duress, and that statement equally stands as a descriptor for U.S.’s relations with North Korea. When you consider Japan’s nearly adjacent location to both China and North Korea (and between them and the U.S.), you can understand how the Japanese can feel as if their island home is smack-dab in the middle of a geopolitical spider web.
As linguistic accuracy experts, the best language professionals facilitate diplomacy. Working with interpreters and translators with exceptional experience and training means they are as able to handle corporate communication in high-pressure situations as they are to facilitate familiar conversations at casual, social events.
A word about Japanese culture and business etiquette
When navigating the business dealings and negotiations in the Asian Triangle (China-Japan-Korea), companies are wise to use language service providers who not only have experience in the realms of medical, legal, international law and/or international arbitration to safeguard your brand’s reputation, but also who are well-versed in Japanese culture and business etiquette. While it’s true that the Japanese understand American business culture is less formal than theirs, it’s also undeniable that your company’s respect and attentive honoring of their business etiquette will make a notably positive impression on Japanese clients, partners, and prospects.
The Business Insider website explains some of the tenets of Japanese business culture, such as:
- The whole takes precedence over the individual – which is certainly something you can apply to using interpreters and translators;
- Lower-level employees do not make decisions without running them through the proper channels and getting approval by superiors;
- Only the highest-quality work is acceptable;
- The expectation that employees participate in after-hours socializing (aka loyal, company facetime); and
- The assumption that all employees willingly and cheerfully work long hours, with very few breaks.
If your employees plan to work in Japan for any length of time, they should be prepared for these in-house differences and adjust their expectations/scheduling accordingly.
Also, when it comes to doing business or forming partnerships with Japanese companies, japaninterculture.com lists 10 expectations worth knowing to make a good impression and enjoy a loyal alliance. Examples include:
- Being prepared for a long-term alliance and commitment;
- Assigning a single point of contact to maintain clear, streamlined communication/information;
- Being highly accessible (it’s very common for Japanese business cards – meishi – to include personal cell phone and/or home numbers);
- Immediately returning, replying-to, and/or acknowledging phone calls, emails, texts, faxes, etc.;
- Always taking responsibility/accountability and work towards a solution, never making excuses or explaining away a problem or issue; and
- Planning to spend more time in person with Japanese clients than you would with their American counterparts (i.e. hand-delivering reports, and enjoying a cup of tea, rather than emailing them over).
Lighter-hearted ways to get familiar with Japanese culture
There are two popularly recommended resources for Americans who are currently doing business in Japan or who would like to branch into the Japanese market using translators and interpreters. The first is the movie Lost in Translation, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, and set in Tokyo. The film has caused some controversy in the years since it came out, often being accused of racism via American stereotypes of Japanese culture. However, it is still an interesting watch and many of the places featured in the film – from the hotel to the karaoke bar and shabu shabu restaurant – are authentic and still in business.
The second resource is the Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. While geared towards organization and decluttering, Marie Kondo’s approach, mannerisms, and quips are steeped in Japanese culture and etiquette. Familiarizing yourself with her show – and personal practice – is an entertaining way to soak up Japanese culture via media osmosis and see real, quality Japanese interpretation in action.
Is your company looking for top-level Japanese translators and interpreters to meet your growing demand for Japanese language services? Contact us online at Chang-Castillo and Associates, or give us a call directly at +1 (877) 708-0005.