Secrets of Japanese Meetings

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As a foreigner it is quite rare to be asked to the standard Japanese company meetings. What I mean are those meetings which are not something to do with international matters and there is no information in English. I was asked to represent our faculty to a meeting of the “Information Technology Center” (basically handling all computer administration and “Media Center” (basically libraries), representing our school. It was 6pm to 8pm on Friday night. On the one hand it was on the one hand extremely boring way to spend a Friday evening. But on the other hand I really could experience some secrets of Japanese culture. At each meeting there were two men doing almost all the talking. One man looked a bit older, talked less, and looked like the boss. We basically listened to a long list of reports. In western cultures meetings are held to actually discuss or decide something. But in Japanese meetings I think that the purpose is not to decide anything. In fact it seems everything had been decided before the meeting. At the end of the meeting they asked if anyone had questions but nobody did. We all bowed. I wondered what was the purpose of the meeting. But I guess it is a kind of “wa” or harmony which is important in Japanese culture. By me being physically present and representing the school we showed harmony with the decisions. I found it an interesting and somewhat entertaining experience of some more secrets of Japanese culture.