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In typical Japanese companies, all managers have a title defining where they stand in the hierarchy, for instance 課長 and 部長, both of which can be translated as "section chief", so sometimes it is hard to tell who is higher or lower.

So, what are the usual titles, in approximate hierarchical order?

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  • 代表取締役 (formal) or 社長 (informal) or 経営最高責任者 (translated from English) Chief Executive Officer
  • 副社長 Vice President
  • 専務 Senior Managing Director or Executive Director
  • 常務 Managing Director
  • 取締役 Member of the Board or Director
  • 非常勤役員 Outside Director
  • 本部長 General Manager
  • 本部長代理 Acting General Manager
  • 部長 Department Manager
  • 次長 Associate Department Manager
  • 副部長 Associate Department Manager
  • 支店長 Branch Manager
  • 所長 Division Manager
  • 課長 Section Manager
  • 課長代理 Acting Section Manager or Deputy Section Manager
  • 係長 Assistant Section Manager
  • 主任 Supervisor
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    Japanese corporations are legally led by the 代表取締役(Representative Director). 社長 is an informal title for the same position, and 経営最高責任者 is a translation for CEO which may be used in name cards. 会長(Chair[man]) is a separate position that is usually given to retired founders. – jbcreix Jun 19 '15 at 8:19
  • @jbcreix: Thanks! Does it look better now? So 会長 does not belong in the hierarchy I guess? – Nicolas Raoul Jun 19 '15 at 8:34
  • He belongs there as much as any of the others. Legally, in a corporation there are only directors(代表取締役 and 取締役) and external auditors(監査役). All other titles are given to employees and/or directors according to internal rules. A 会長 will usually be the majority shareholder or otherwise influential and still come on top or very close to it regardless of whether he is a director or an employee. – jbcreix Jun 19 '15 at 9:27
  • @jbcreix: Would you mind adding 会長 and 監査役 as you see fit? This answer is community wiki, which means it does not belong to me in particular. Thanks a lot! – Nicolas Raoul Jun 19 '15 at 9:36

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