It’s generally thought that Japanese people hide their emotions and desires behind an immoveble screen of politeness. Actually, it’s just that gaijin don’t understand their code; they’re communicating what they want perfectly clearly, and I’ve found adopting their communication techniques abroad hugely helpful (particularly number 5), apart from when damn foreigners don’t understand what they mean, which, it turns out, is about 99% of the time. Here are the most useful ways to say No, guaranteed to be instantly comprehended (here, at least):
1) Incline your head slightly and look very thoughtful. Make a few contemplative murmuring noises. Under no circumstances actually speak.
2) Rephrase the question: “Hmm, you do need someone to do that translation for you,” “Why is it that Japanese translation is so difficult?” etc.
3) Perfect the wall-eyed look. Zone out completely and stare into a space about a foot in front of your eyes. Make sure this is done with no embarrassment whatsoever.
4) Laugh sweetly. This works best if you’re a woman, and can accompany it with coy batting hand movements and occasionally cover your mouth. Keep going till the danger has passed.
5) Say yes. This is the most commonly used and best understood form of refusal.