I'm reading the novel 下町ロケット now and one part that really surprised me is when several of the members from one company speak to members of the other company without using 敬語 (for example "やめた方がいいよ”).

The overall context is that one company is being forced to use the other company's technology because the second company patented the technology first. They are in the process of running tests against the part (a valve) and want to see it fail so they can barter to just pay the patent fees and use their own technology.

I know that using non-polite forms to someone on a 'lower' level of the same company is common, but I thought that between companies polite language was almost always used.

Is this dialog exaggerated for effect, or does this really happen in real Japanese business interactions?

Edit: With regards to broccoli forest marking this as a possible duplicate: While the referenced post is informative on its own and is about the same novel, it doesn't answer my question of how common this sort of thing actually occurs in real life. Also in the dialog I was reading there was neither 丁寧語 nor 尊敬語 (it was with a different company [帝国重工] than the one referred to in that post).

I know that speaking in non-polite Japanese can be considered rude, but I want to know how a realistic depiction that is compared vs. an over-dramatic one. Basically I'd like to ask: is this something I would ever experience in real life, in particular with regard to two companies in a business relationship?

  • Possible duplicate of Using 尊敬語・謙譲語 but not 丁寧語 on the same target Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 15:59
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    Thanks for that. See my edit regarding duplicate possibility.
    – Locksleyu
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 16:20
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    Might be worth pointing out how that the relationships themselves in this novel are considerably more dramatic and intense than the average business relationship. I doubt the average 社員 would ever hold a relationship like that with another company. Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 17:44
  • Is it dialogue between the less public-facing members of the company? Compare conversation between engineers from different companies, and marketers/business types from different companies. The engineers, if they have a stronger relationship based on professional culture than business culture, have an "in-group" they can work through on those terms. Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 17:44
  • darius: thanks for that, that is sort of what I was looking for. Feel free to create an answer if you want to expand on that (:
    – Locksleyu
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 19:03

2 Answers 2






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    – Locksleyu
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 3:10
  • あれ…(話はずれるけど)佃は財前に失礼な口調で話したっけ?私の記憶ではかなり仲のいい二人だったが… Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 18:31
  • 数日前に小説読んだので覚えてますが、中盤はいわゆるビジネス敬語とは明らかに違いますね。
    – naruto
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 1:26

For example 三菱 is big company group (really 帝国重工 is 三菱重工). In japan there is a phenomenon called 下請け叩き. The famous big companies often control small companies. Many companies dislike big companies. I watched that drama, and thought it was interesting and realistic. I think that real parts of that drama are some parts of occurring various troubles on component development.

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    Thanks for the interesting information, though I don't think you answered the question directly. How common is it for one person in a business to use a non-polite form with a person in another business?
    – Locksleyu
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 20:25
  • I think that answer is almost no. Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 20:30
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    I didn't understand what you meant in the last sentence. Can you clarify that? Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 3:26
  • There is a side that drama or novel are completeness like non fiction. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 5:43

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