Individuals who know how to speak basic Japanese have a huge advantage when it comes to doing business in Asia. In Japan remains one of the biggest economies the entire world, and as one of China's largest trading partners they are sure to remain there. Japan has a very different code of conduct when it comes to doing business as opposed to the United States, and this is part of the reason why something that might seem small in the Western business world - like speaking basic tourist Japanese, can make all the difference in the world when doing business of any kind in Japan.
In the United States businessmen are used to pitching their business. They talk about what they have to offer, contracts they have successfully fulfilled, business opportunities they have to offer, and the reputation they have with stockholders. Japan does business very differently. Honor and reputation are both major parts of the business world in Japan. Often times business relationships or judgments of companies are based almost entirely on the character of the person representing them.
This gives small businesses the opportunity to compete against larger corporations. Since the impression an individual person makes matters in Japanese business, a person who understands basic Japanese language and customs has the ability to make an excellent impression. This individual may be able to land contracts that larger more tested companies cannot.
The advantages of speaking Japanese are obvious in the business world. Not only will that person be seen as respectful, but the ability to speak in their native language and to understand even the most basic customs of politeness almost gives the individual an unfair advantage over competitors.
While few Westerners will be able to learn the Japanese alphabet, is not overly difficult to learn to speak the language. In fact, some have compared the Japanese spoken language as being similar to Spanish. While many linguists will disagree, this still goes to show that Japanese or at least spoken Japanese can be learned by businessmen who are willing to do just a little bit of studying.