Ownership of the Westin Hotels and Resorts chain was misidentified in Monday's Washington Business section. Aoki Corp. owns the chain. The article also incorrectly reported the number of Japanese business travelers the Westin chain serves; about 5 percent of its corporate customers are Japanese, a spokesman for the Westin hotel here said. (Published 6/20/90)

A few reminders for doing business with the Japanese, from language specialist Yuriko Uchiyama-Rollins:

Slouching, putting your feet up or using your hands when talking makes them uncomfortable.

Punctuality isn't a virtue. "The Japanese are more tolerant of time. They will show up on time for meetings with American businessmen because they are told that Americans are always punctual and try to do so much with their time, but in their own country if they were asked to come at 2 they would show up a few minutes after because they would not want to embarrass the other person in case they were not ready."

The Japanese never express their negative emotions. "They will smile when they are angry or sad."

For Michael Sansbury, general manager of the Westin Hotel in Washington and a participant in a recent seminar that Uchiyama-Rollins and another language specialist led for Westin managers here, this was news to use, for obvious reasons.

The 64-hotel chain Sansbury works for is owned by Japan's All Nippon Airways. About 75 percent of its customers are corporate travelers, most of them Japanese. The Westin here offers them a Japanese breakfast and Japanese literature, and it offers basic Japanese language courses to its own senior management.

For Bilingual Services, the recently formed Chevy Chase-based company that employs Uchiyama-Rollins and that held the seminar, such information is part of a growing business -- for itself and other companies in the Washington area -- of catering to American companies and foreign firms conducting trade.

"I believe that Americans and American business in general {are} really rather frightened by the prospects of having to compete with sophisticated Europeans and the already aggressive Japanese," said founding partner Carl Pergler. He started Bilingual Services in November 1989 after a career that included a stint as vice president and treasurer for an Italian pharmaceutical company and president of its research foundation.

"It's particularly important, then, to make sure that any business that wants to continue to compete become more culturally aware and more culturally prepared," he said. "Washington used to be solely government, lobbyists, and companies that supported the government -- now it is recognized as an international city."

The numbers seem to bear that out. A survey by Peat Marwick Main & Co. and the Greater Washington Board of Trade found 129 foreign-owned companies have based their U.S. headquarters in the area, spending more than $150 million last year. Nearly 30 of the companies surveyed for The Post 200 list of the region's biggest firms get at least 10 percent of their revenue from foreign sales.

The company provides protocol training, immigration and visa consultation, translation and interpretation, temporary and permanent personnel placement and "professional attaches" who know foreign business executives' language and culture and can guide them around Washington. It claims expertise in more than 40 languages covering 75 countries.

Seminars such as the one Westin executives attended cost $75 to $300 per person, depending on the length and depth of the seminar and how many people attend.

For expertise, Pergler relies on consultants such as Uchiyama-Rollins, a native of Japan who taught English there and now teaches Japanese at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, and Maria Wilmeth, foreign language curriculum coordinator for the Fairfax County Public Schools, who helped lead the Westin seminar.

The two language experts, after telling the Westin managers of the importance of understanding other cultures and giving brief lessons on Japanese culture and language, divided them into two groups for an exercise in cultural awareness called "Rafa-Rafa," with each group acting out its own cultural customs and speaking its own language while visitors from the other group observed.

For Sansbury, the importance of such lessons -- and the degree to which other nations have learned them -- was underscored during a trip that he and four other Westin staffers took to Japan in January to meet the Westin chain's new owners. "I was impressed by the service distinctiveness and the efforts made by the Japanese to accommodate the needs of their guests," said Sansbury of the hotel where he stayed.

Sansbury said he received an English-language newspaper every morning. The hotel's phone system was coded so that any time he used his room phone, he reached someone who spoke English. "When I called the laundry I even got somebody who answered and spoke to me in English; that's hard to find in the United States," he said.