Japan is one of the most industrious societies in the world, but it has long been considered a land of contradictions. It is a country that changed from being a closed island nation (nearly 100 years behind the times technology-wise by 1870) to defeating Russia, a major European power just 30 years later in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905. Despite the intense periods of change in its history, it is remarkably slow to change its ways of business and politics. Japan is known for its technology industries, but is often accused of lacking true innovation. Japan is highly dependent on its connections with the outside world for resources and trade, but is still very much closed off and hard to penetrate. Among these contradictions is the “Japanese Startup Gap”: Japan, as all modern societies, has benefited greatly from the innovation and value creation of entrepreneurship, yet has a culture that is highly resistant against, if not openly hostile to startups.
Kevin Ready is a regular contributor for Forbes, and author of the book Startup: An Insider’s Guide to Launching and Running a Business.