What shocks Israelis about Japanese business culture-part 2

I have spent hundreds and perhaps a thousand hours working with Japanese teams and Israeli teams who need to interact, generally around the introduction of new products into the Japanese market.

There are probably few cultures as different as the Israelis and the Japanese. And it would be fair to say that I could write 100 things that appear shocking to the Israelis . I have chosen the top four.

1) The Israelis engineering/development teams find it very challenging that the Japan based offices do not filter Japanese customer input. Every bit of input from the customer appears magnified and blown out of proportion. A minor flaw gets the attention of a revenue-impacting flaw. Thus, the Israeli feels a need to “push aside” the Japanese member of their company and “speak directly to the client.”

2) The Israelis observe that the Japanese buy the Israeli innovation, yet “whine” about the “inevitable” ugly process of introducing something very new. “They want the child, not the pregnancy”, which appears very “unfair”.

3) Israelis work as hard as the Japanese, and I dare say, sometimes harder. So the Israelis  react very poorly to ceremonies of verbal abuse, which Japanese have known to deal out to the Israelis. Unlike the Americans and Canadians I have seen, the Israelis really cannot stomach verbal abuse, and many refuse to return after being thrashed.

4) I have observed several instances in which an Israeli was told by a local colleague  “The Jews are such good businessmen; how is it that this product has so many bugs”. Needless to say, this ain’t the wisest thing to say, although it is not classical anti-Semitism encountered at times in many other places, like Eastern Europe.

Yet strangely, there are many things which are very similar in the two business cultures: very very hard work, an emphasis on commitment, more loyalty to the work place than to one’s career…..and lots of jokes about Americans.

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12 thoughts on “What shocks Israelis about Japanese business culture-part 2

  1. I can really relate to the verbal abuse. I have seen folks in the US completely disengage after being verbally slammed–whether ceremonial of not.

    These posts have been really helpful.
    I also want to know the American jokees.


  2. I can’t believe you have worked on many products with the Japanese. It sounds more like you had a poor product and you could not take the criticism. Hard work does not mean anything. It is the quality of the end product that matters. You may think it is no big deal, but it is the buyer that will be the ultimate judge. If you cannot put out the quality that is required in the Japanese market, pack up your bags and sell your products elsewhere.

  3. I am neither Israeli nor Japanese but I have worked in Japan on projects involving Israeli business partners working with Japanese clients to deliver IT solutions to Japanese customers. Based on my limited experience it was my impression that there is an enormous difference in business styles. Also at times anti-Semitism was evident.

  4. “…although it is not classical anti-Semitism encountered at times in many other places, like Eastern Europe.”

    Such a great article and then at the end such a facepalm. Couldnt you really stop yourself and had to mention (you even bolded it) how much Eastern Europe is ani-semitic, in an article about Japanese-Israeli differences? How is it connected to Easter Europe at all??
    I have been always supporting Jewish people in my “Eastern European country” (bold it), but the more I read the more I see you just need to always drag the worst aspects and torment people with it all over again. Srly? Speechelss.

  5. Allon comments:
    1) “I have been always supporting Jewish people in my “Eastern European country” sounds a bit patronizing to me. There is lots of “support” still needed it appears.
    2) http://www.eurojewcong.org/poland/8965-polish-football-fans-host-anti-semitic-game-in-lodz.html
    3) http://www.thenews.pl/1/10/Artykul/56057,Legia-Jihad-at-Europa-League-match
    4)http://www.newstatesman.com/sport/2013/09/we-cant-rid-football-anti-semitism-unless-spurs-fans-stop-chanting-yid-army (western europe)
    5) http://www.worldsoccer.com/blogs/polish-football-fights-anti-semitism

    This type of anti Antisemitism is not found in Japan; in Japan, the anti Semitic comments are based on pure ignorance, with very few people ever having met/worked with Jews.

    And one more comment-for you perhaps the 30’s and 40’s was a long time ago. For me, it is yesterday.

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