Understanding Japanese Business Etiquette for Email Communication

Understanding Japanese Business Etiquette for Email Communication

Want to understand Japanese business etiquette for email communication? Learn all the important tips you need in this comprehensive guide!

Japanese business etiquette is an important part of communicating with people in the Japanese corporate world. When it comes to email communication, there are certain principles you should follow if you want to make a good impression. Learn everything you need to know about Japanese business etiquette for email here!

Address the Person Respectfully

Respect is of utmost importance in any business transaction, and this is reflected in how you address a person in an email. In Japan, it’s best to use the person’s surname followed by the honorific “-san” or “-sama.” For example, rather than typing “Hello John,” use “Hello Smith-san” or “Hello Smith-sama.”

If you are writing to a Japanese employer and you don’t know what their preferred honorific is, it’s best to use “-san” as a safe option. In addition, if you start your email with “Dear Mr. or Ms.,” the person may not respond to your email as they think it's not addressed to them. Furthermore, in both the subject line of your email and the body of the email itself, make sure to keep it concise and avoid using overly long sentences and complex grammar points. A few polite words such as “Arigatou (Thank you) gozaimasu (very much)” at the end of your message can go a long way too!

Use Honorifics when Appropriate

Honorifics are used to show respect and should be included in email communication. Generally, -san is the default honorific to use when addressing someone you don't know well or have a formal relationship with. If the person is a superior then -sama can be used as a sign of respect. It’s also important to include your own name and honorific when writing an email to someone in Japan so they can address you properly in return. Furthermore, emails should be written in polite Japanese, using formal or humble language depending on the person you are writing to. This means avoiding slang and making sure you put in a little extra effort in your grammar and sentence structure. If you make an apology in the email it’s good form to use the rarer expressions, such as ‘yoroshiku onegaishimasu’ as opposed to regular apologies that start with ‘sumimasen’.

Don't Be Too Casual in Your Tone

Japanese business etiquette requires you to maintain a polite, formal tone when communicating via email. Even if you know the recipient well, avoid using slang or overly casual language as this can cause confusion. Speak in a polite, humble fashion and use formal language to help ensure your message is received correctly and taken seriously by the recipient.

When writing emails in Japan, addressing someone with their title is a must. If you don't know the recipient's title and position, use a standard honorific such as "Sama" or "san." It is also important to sign off the email by restating the recipient's name and position. This is an important part of Japanese business etiquette that helps establish respect between sender and recipient. Including a signature line filled with your contact information, position and company at the bottom of your emails is also often appreciated by the recipient.

Some additional tips for Japanese business email etiquette:

  • Use a Japanese email address. If you have a Japanese email address, it will show that you are serious about doing business in Japan.
  • Use a Japanese font. There are many Japanese fonts available, so choose one that is easy to read and professional.
  • Use a clear subject line. The subject line of your email should be clear and concise, so that the recipient knows what the email is about.
  • Use proper grammar and spelling. Make sure that your email is free of errors in grammar and spelling. This will show that you have taken the time to write a professional email.
  • Proofread your email before sending it. It is always a good idea to proofread your email before sending it. This will help to ensure that there are no errors and that your email is clear and concise.
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