The Japanese are considered to be among the politest of peoples, and that is particularly true when it comes to business communication. Japan has precise and sophisticated hierarchical systems, complete with a special language of politeness, keigo (けいご, 敬語), which includes speech patterns, nonverbal cues and even where a person is seated at a table. This post is by Rochelle Kopp, a Japanese business culture expert and cross-cultural communication specialist from Japan Intercultural Consulting. Keigo speech patterns are determined by the relative status of the speaker, the listener and the persons spoken about. By contrast, American English is built on the values of fairness and social equality. It has no specific structural tools for communicating between hierarchical levels.