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Startups gain appeal as some Japan Inc. names fade

August 27, 2013 • World News


In this photo taken Wednesday, July 24, 2013, Terra Motors Corp. employee Shimpei Kato, center, speaks during an interview at its headquarters at Tokyo’s Shibuya district. Terra is a little know venture that pays far less but is out to conquer the world with its stylish electric scooters. Despite having some of the developed world’s least hospitable conditions for starting a new business, Japan’s near-monolithic “salaryman” culture of guaranteed lifetime employment at a household name corporation is facing erosion. Ventures are sprouting again after a decade marred by some high-profile failures and a striking aspect is their focus on manufacturing. Terra Motors President Toru Tokushige said one sign of progress for startups is that these days they have no problems recruiting quality people. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

TOKYO (AP) — In a shabby back-alley office in Shibuya, a Tokyo district known for youth culture and tech ventures, defectors from corporate Japan are hard at work for a little known company they fervently believe will be the country’s next big manufacturing success.

Like a startup anywhere in the world, its bare bone setup crackles with an optimistic energy and urgent sense of purpose. What’s different, for Japan, is that this startup’s talent is drawn from the ranks of famous companies such as Mitsubishi, Michelin and Nissan.

Kohshi Kuwahara, 26, worked for more than two years at electronics giant Panasonic Corp. before hopping to Terra Motors Corp., a little know venture that pays far less but is out to conquer the world with its stylish electric scooters. As with his colleagues at Terra, he resiled from the hidebound culture of big Japanese companies and felt a deep sense of frustration at their eclipse by Login to read more

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