Business in Asia has done much differently than business in the United States. In the United States business is often determined by the amount of money a company has, the size of the company, or the reputation of the company. In Japan there are many other considerations that are made when doing a business deal. For example, the character of the person that is being talked to matters of great deal. Judgments on the company are often made based on whether or not that person is seen as impressive or and not impressive, whether they're respectful or not respectful, and whether they are competent or not competent.
What this means is that the business's reputation is not enough. An impressive individual who shows the proper respect and knowledge of Japanese culture has a huge advantage when trying to win a business contract. Because of the importance of respect, tradition, and honor, it does not matter how large your company is as long as the individual person shows a strong understanding of all three of these cultural tenets.
Learning basic Japanese including respectful Japanese and business Japanese, is the first step towards accomplishing this persona. Since the individual man's character is judges representing the company, this gives smaller companies a chance to compete. Showing that you had to respect to learn even the most basic parts of the Japanese language will improve your standing among anyone you're doing business dealings with. The majority of Western businessmen don't bother to learn even the basics. This does not mean that you won't need a translator, but in all likelihood their command of the English language will be better than your command of Japanese. This is to be expected, but it should not deter you from learning Japanese.
In this case it's not fluency that matters but it showing the efforts to have respect for their culture and their business as well as their traditions. In this situation learning basic Japanese will give you a huge advantage because it shows respect, it shows an appreciation for their culture, it shows strong character on your part, and shows an understanding of both respect and honor.
Beyond just dealing with businessmen learning basic Japanese also gives you some other it manages. Having an ability to more naturally interact with waiters, waitresses, secretaries, assistants, or other individuals will make you more comfortable and will make you appear more appreciative of their culture. This natural ease while traveling and working in Japan will also come in handy when dealing with business. This natural interaction with others will make you appear more respectful more friendly and more suited with the Japanese culture and this will not go unnoticed.
Aside from the obvious advantages of learning Japanese for both business and tribal, knowing even the basic tourist version of the language will help you enjoy your travels more and help make for smoother trips and smoother adventures all visiting this great island nation.