Come on Japan, Get with the Program

Sally Herships
September 21, 2015

“Founding a startup today has become the stuff of TV and movies around the world.  But in Japan today, founding a tech company is not what you might call super popular. Silicon Valley appreciates a good failure. The Japanese — not so much.

‘People have the mentality of failure as not being an option. And if you fail, they will face social rejection,’ says Toshi Yamamoto, CEO and founder of software company ChatWork.

When he was launching his company while still in college, says Yamamoto, he was constantly questioned.  ‘All the time. They call me crazy – why do you do that? Why don’t you go to a large corporation? Or, why don’t you work for the company?’ he says.

And while Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe is pushing hard to reverse the country’s economic slump, when it comes to tech and innovation, Japan is still behind — Especially reluctant, it would seem, to embrace the culture of start-ups.”

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Sally Herships is a 2015 US-Japan Journalism Fellow.