5

Contrarily to the abbreviated informal (if not rude) version I used in the title, the usual greeting for the New Year is quite long:
明けましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします。

Those are two sentences, and it seems that they are usually pronounced with a slight pause between them. The reply is usually the same sentences:
明けましておめでとうございます。 今年もよろしくお願いします。

I am wondering what timing I should use to reply politely.

I have the impression than when communicating in Japan it is seen as more polite and respectful to take time when speaking (making longer greeting sentences), while on the opposite in some occidental cultures it feels more polite to not abuse of the interlocutor's time, and keep communications brief and efficient.

Is it okay to start replying after the first sentence:

Interlocutor:明けましておめでとうございます。
Me:明けましておめでとうございます。
Interlocutor:今年もよろしくお願いします。
Me:今年もよろしくお願いします。

Or can I wait until my interlocutor has finished saying their sentence, and take time to say mine too:

Interlocutor:明けましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします。
Me:明けましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします。

And of course Happy New Year everyone!

4

Both is OK. When you feel your interlocutor put a pause, you can reply it.

The following has no problem.

Interlocutor:明けましておめでとうございます。

Me:明けましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくお願いします。

Interlocutor:(こちらこそ)今年もよろしくお願いします。

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