Decline of Entrepreneurship Blamed for Japan Woes

Worn out and resigned to its dwindling status, Japan Inc. is said to be quietly shuffling off the world stage. But dont tell that to Kenji Hasegawa, who is ready to conquer the global auto market with his nifty innovation, a bolt that doesnt need a nut. Or Chiaki Hayashi, who makes millions teaching big-name companies to be creative again.

As different as they seem — Hasegawa runs auto-parts supplier Lockn Bolt Corp. and Hayashi is a rare woman to help found a Tokyo startup — both highlight the potential of innovation and entrepreneurship in a nation that is often typecast as facing an unrelenting decline.

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Japan’s ‘Zuckerberg’ leading generation of entrepreneurs

One of Asia’s youngest self-made billionaires, 35-year-old Yoshikazu Tanaka looks the part of a young internet tycoon.

The Japanese founder and CEO of mobile social gaming business Gree arrived for his CNN interview wearing a hooded sweatshirt, ripped jeans and a pair bight red shoes. His personal wealth is valued at $2.2 billion so he can afford to wear whatever he wants to the office.

Gree has grown from Tanaka’s self-financed project into a company with a market value of around $7 billion. The share price is more than sevenfold what it was at its 2008 IPO.

The company is now partnered with Tencent, one of the largest social networks in China, and in April 2011 it acquired OpenFeint, a large U.S.-based gaming network.

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Japan Loves Innovation, but Entrepreneurship? – These start-ups may surprise you

Japan is mad about innovation. From tech gadgets to inventively designed products, it is a place hungry for cutting-edge. Why then are there so few entrepreneurs? Culture, many say, is to blame. With an aversion to standout much less fail, the Japanese spurn start-ups. But what culture doesn’t hate losing?

The better answer is Japan’s complicated bureaucracy and regulation that makes it difficult to launch and raise capital for an enterprise. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business index, Japan ranks 107 out of 183 countries for ease of starting a business. Venture capital is scarce.

Both are inadequate responses for true entrepreneurs. That’s at least what I witnessed tonight when all of Tokyo’s start-up stars came out for an awards fete hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos. Ambassador Roos has promoted, more than any other American chief of mission, entrepreneurship, encouraging Japanese innovators to “aim global.”

Read the rest of the story: Japan is mad about innovation. Can it get crazy about entrepreneurship?.

Pictured is Real-F 3D, a start-up in Japan that makes 3D models of your face.