WANTEDLY, a LinkedIn for Japan’s millennials, would not be out of place in California. The thriving firm’s offices feature trendy furniture and a ping-pong table. Akiko Naka, the 32-year-old chief executive leads a young team that forgoes the usual black-and-white attire of Japanese business to pad around in jeans and socks. Meeting rooms are named after characters from a famous manga comic.
Yet Wantedly is a rarity. Since the fertile years of the 1980s, and a brief dotcom boom that began in the late 1990s, Japan has fared badly in encouraging similar startups. Just 31% of Japanese think being an entrepreneur is a good career choice, beating only Puerto Rico at the bottom of a study carried out in 2014 by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), a report compiled by a group of universities worldwide. By comparison, America scored 65%, China 66% and the Netherlands 79%. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, has tried to encourage people to start new businesses to help revive the economy. Startups create more jobs, and more productive ones—something Japan desperately needs. (Its…Continue reading