Basic Japanese : Japanese business titles
The last post of “Japanese honorific titles” series.
For people who are in a (supposed-to-be) honorary post, their business titles are generally used.
There are too many to pick up everything, so I just write about some of the most common ones.
Each of them can be used after the person’s name.
In “Dalziel and Pascoe” series, a British mystery, the two protagonists call each other by first name (“Andy” and “Peter”) even at office, although Dalziel is in the higher position than Pascoe.
This is quite unlikely in Japan no matter how close they are.
It is probable in private, but never at work.
In the company I work, brothers used to be in the same office.
They always called each other by family name with their business titles at work.
Japanese business titles
- Used chiefly for teachers or medical doctors in address or speech.
We use different word, “hakase”, for a “doctor” who has a non-medical doctor degree.
- Also used for professional creators like cartoonists, novelists, painters, etc.
- Government representatives seem to be called with this title by people like their secretaries in speech, according to TV dramas.
- Generally for a person who has a longer experience at the place you belong to and no other titles like “buchou”.
A senior in age, position, skills, etc.
- Frequently heard at school, especially at clubs.
- I assume it’s rather rare to be used at office.
People usually call others with their business titles, and to a person without titles, “san” or “kun” is more often used.
- The opposite of “senpai” is “kouhai” (junior person), but “kouhai” is never used as a title.
“Senpai” can be used after the person’s name, while “kouhai” not.
Statuses in a company
Actually, those statuses are not stated in the law, so they may vary from company to company.
For example, there are no “fuku-shachou” or “jyoumu” in the company I belong.
The following are common statuses in a general rank order from the highest.
The kanji character “chou” is used in many statuses.
It means “the top”, “the head” or “the leader” in this case.
For a store manager, the word “tenchou” (lit. “store leader”) is used.
For a factory head, “koujyouchou”. (“koujyou” means “factory”)
- A company chairman.
In Japan, “kaichou” is often a retired “shachou”.
In this case, “kaichou” is non-executive.
- The word is also used for the head of a society or a group like a student council or PTA.
- For a company president.
- Puller-ins may use this to any men with an honorific title, “san”.
- For a vice-president.
“Fuku” means “sub” or “assistant”.
- For a senior managing director.
The word “senmu” literally means “entirely on tasks”.
- For a managing director.
“Jyoumu” literally means “always on tasks”.
- For a department director.
- Generally at school, this word is used for a club president.
- For a section head.
- For a unit head.
The word literally means “mainly entrusted”.
In the Cabinet
Frequently seen in news.
Common people usually call them just by name or with “san” (some may use “chan”), rather than with their business titles.
I call the present Japanese PM as “Abe san” or “Abe” in usual conversation.
[Shushou or Souri]
- The prime minister.
The official Japanese word for the prime minister is “Naikaku souri daijin” (“naikaku” means “the Cabinet”).
However, “souri daijin” is more often used in speech, and the most common word is just “souri” or “shushou”.
“Shushou” is a short version of the Japanese words meaning “the head minister of the Cabinet”.
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