For Eric Gan, chief financial officer of broadband service firm eAccess Ltd., keeping up with the latest telecom technology terms in Japanese is not difficult. Coping with business customs here is.

The 40-year-old ethnic Chinese, for example, gets a bit uneasy as the end of the year draws nearer, when business partners pay courtesy visits to his office to express customary greetings. Just a few weeks later, the same people visit him again to express their best wishes for the new year.

"It's not standing chatting for a few minutes, but I have to sit at a table with them and talk for 10 to 15 minutes," said Gan, who was born in Hong Kong, brought up in Britain and has lived in Japan since 1990.