Japanese workplaces can be hard to adjust to for many reasons. The language barrier can be one, but it can also take time to get used to certain aspects of Japan’s work culture. While it’s not always the case, especially with newer companies, it can be said that Japanese offices often place a lot of emphasis on good communication and getting along with your coworkers.
The chorei, a kind of morning meeting, is a good example of this. Some workplaces in Japan have employees do this every morning, though the structure and purpose of course varies. I have been a contract worker for a local government in Japan for a short time, so I’ll use my experience as an example.
In my workplace, the chorei was a short speech given by an employee while confirming the day’s schedule. We rotated around our department desk and someone different did the chorei each day. The day’s speaker would talk about some random topic of their choosing at their desk. Often the topic was about work, but as this was a rural, conservative office, it wasn’t uncommon for people to talk about things that were going on in their private lives.
When the short speech was done, the person then went over the day’s schedule with everyone, and then asked the kachou to give his own short speech. Chorei in our office didn’t have any set length for anyone; some people would talk very briefly, while one kachou during my time there gave longer speeches.
This was something that took some time for me to adjust to, and my coworkers didn’t expect me to participate when I first arrived. I sometimes stumbled or made small mistakes during the chorei – it was hard to talk at length about a subject.
Chorei can sometimes be more formal than that, however. Some companies may have employees stand in front of everyone to give a longer speech. Other companies may have employees recite the company motto for employees to feel more motivated about their work.
The practice isn’t quite as common in recent years, but it’s still something that many companies do. It might seem unusual to non-Japanese workers – as it did to me – but you can also use it as an opportunity to understand the routines of a Japanese workplace, and perhaps as a way to challenge yourself to improve your Japanese by giving short speeches.