In my career, I’ve been to my share of meetings and usually in Japan they were just “to discuss”. Nothing ever got done, or decided.
If only I had asked this question more often:
What is the purpose of the meeting?
Not just asking for an agenda, which itself is hard to get, but what is the purpose? Why are we meeting?
“It’s scheduled” is not a good enough answer.
This question won’t win you many friends in the beginning, but it will get people to focus and think in terms of results.
Here’s another question you can ask:
When will the meeting end?
In Japan, an ending time is usually not set, just a beginning time. I ask this question a lot and you can get an answer to this one. If you don’t, try to set your own time limit as to how long you’ll stay.
For me, usually not more than an hour. I mean after a certain amount of time, you can see whether something is going to get accomplished or not. Need an excuse for leaving? Just say, “I have another meeting”.
I know some people will say I can’t ask my boss these questions.