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Japanese business meeting

Feb 14, 2016
I visit Tokyo regularly for business and I used to be accompanied by my Japanese business partners in customer meetings which are conducted largely in Japanese. My business partners will interpret and translate for me which is useful as I do not speak nor understand Japanese. In the coming months, I will be having business meetings without my business partners which means I need to engage an interpreter / translator for the meetings if I want to be able to communicate with my customers. Thus I have couple of questions:
1. Is it common to use interpreters in meetings?
2. In Japanese business setting, is male or female preferred for the interpreting? My industry is banking and IT which is primarily male-dominated. I was told by some Japanese business associates that female interpreter is more preferred as they are seen as more gentle and softer. I am the vendor, so I need to project a customer-oriented facade.
3. Is it proper to bring along an interpreter to business entertainment like lunch or dinner?
By the way, my post for interpreter was moved to the Classified section.
Appreciate any feedback / comments provided.
Jul 28, 2015
My first sales position was at an interpreting company.

It was quite common for customers to request an interpreter to also join the informal part. Just make sure that you discuss with the interpreter what is expected of him/her. If it is all fun and games and you just want to make sure that you don't miss out on anything, the interpreter can join you for drinks and food. If the dinner is part of the negotiation or getting to know each other better phase, then the interpreter can better not eat when you are eating. It would be embarrassing if your Japanese partner asks you a question, and you have to wait for the interpreter to empty her mouth..

If you want to make sure, you can always ask partner if it is ok to bring an interpreter. Maybe they have already asked an English speaking colleague to do the interpreting, so you don't need to hire one. As long as you ask, you should be good. You shouldn't go by gender, but by experience. I think it is much more important that the interpreter has experience in your field (e.g. banking and IT jargon) than what gender the interpreter is. He/she is not a party in the meeting. He/She just helps you understand each other.

Good luck!