When placing Japan’s results side by side with those of the 23 other countries studied in the 2013 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report (AGER), some of the most glaring cultural differences about entrepreneurship become evident.
Others have reported on Japan’s hesitancy to embrace entrepeneurs, who have been viewed as self-promoting in a culture that values group harmony over individual expression. In addition, in Japanese culture, business failure quickly evolves into personal and societal shame, which is in deep contrast to a country like the United States, where failure is often seen as a necessary precursor to success.
The AGER data does not contrast these conventional beliefs, but gives insight into what could make Japan’s would-be entrepreneurs more risk-tolerant. We learned that:
- Only 17% of Japanese respondents ranked “independence from an employer” as an important consideration for starting their own business. For the rest of the world, that number was 43% and consistently one of the highest ranking reasons.
- In Japan, fear of failing with one’s own enterprise was the most prevalent in the world. More than nine out of ten respondents (94%) saw fear to failure as an obstacle to starting a business. This is 24% more than the international average.
- When participants in Japan were asked what would encourage them to start a business, half said that finding “mentoring and support through business networks” would. This number is twice as high as the international average (24%).
Thankfully, mentoring and support is becoming more prevalant in this nation where career success has traditionally been defined too narrowly to include entrepreneurship. And on the horizon: more entrepreneurial courses offered by top Japanese universities.
We look forward to following Japan’s emerging entrepreneurial culture in the coming years – and doing all that we can to stimulate it.