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Safety First 安全第一 Anzen Daiichi


Two months after US-Americans and Germans have received their first anti-Corona shots, Japan began vaccinating health care workers against the virus only this week.  The country demands vaccines to be clinically tested on 200 Japanese people for approval.

The reasons for this requirement partly lie in past lawsuits against compulsory vaccinations and public controversy over alleged side effects of HPV vaccinations. But the extra caution of the Japanese government also reflects an underlying pattern of Japanese culture: A high aversion to risk and the motivation to avoid any hazard from the start.

This is a characteristic that you may as well come across in business situations with Japanese partners. You will probably find it exaggerated that before an event your client keeps asking if you have really provided two back-ups for the video monitor. You may as well interpret his behavior as a lack of trust in your organizational capacities. If you show your irritation, you will most likely cause exactly that: A lack in trust. Not because your Japanese client fears that you are not able to organize back-up monitors but because he suspects you of a rather negligent or imprudent workstyle.

One motto when working with Japanese partners is “Better safe than sorry”: Double checking pays off, creates trust and can protect you from harsh accusations in case that something really goes wrong. At least you did your very best!


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