The pervasive succession crisis threatening Japan’s economy

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TL;DR Stingy owners refusing to share key details and/or offload key functions to people from outside the family (or even their own family), create a working environment that is extremely dependant on one person while also killing other peoples’ career progression. Why does this sound like every other /r/jobs post?


1 **The world’s third-largest economy was built on craftsmanship and family enterprise. A shortage of heirs jeopardises that legacy** On a low plastic bench outside his restaurant in Kanagawa prefecture, Tomoyuki Ohashi is waiting for a lorry to arrive and take away the large commercial freezer at the back of the kitchen. It is, he says, a point of no return. After taking over the business from his father more than 35 years ago, Ohashi has served his last bowl of raw tuna on rice. As he prepares to leave for the final time, he wonders whether he should bother his son, an office worker in nearby Yokohama with no apparent interest in the family business, and ask for help dismantling the large sign that advertises the restaurant along the main road. “It’s a difficult conversation,” he says. The past few years have been punctuated by rows between father, son and daughter-in-law. Ohashi, 74, is part of the generation that built Japan into the world’s third-largest economy. Now, in retirement, it is about to reshape the country once again. His restaurant is one of tens of thousands of businesses that will close down this year because there is no successor to take the reins. Some will be bought by outsiders, some will find an individual from outside the family. Most, like his, will simply vanish. According to recent government figures, the single biggest cohort of business owners in Japan are 69-year-olds. Demographics have long posed huge challenges to the country’s rapidly shrinking and ageing population. But the national shortage of heirs was largely overlooked. Two years of pandemic restrictions have deepened the sense of urgency. Many owners in their mid-seventies have chosen to accelerate plans to either hand over control or watch their cherished firms disappear. As a consequence, Japan faces what some fear could be the most extensive evaporation of knowhow and institutional memory in modern history. The effect on the country will, Ohashi fears, be huge since so much of Japan’s culture is embedded in its businesses and the skills they have amassed between them. The idea that the country could somehow allow all this to disappear, and that the process may even alienate parents from children, is a source of national sorrow. Seen from one angle, the crisis is a consequence of Japan’s success. Decades of stellar postwar economic growth helped create a large, university-educated workforce. These younger generations have been a source of enormous pride to their parents, but in a culture that has long emphasised filial piety and family cohesion, their determination to turn their backs on the family business has brought disappointment too. Many children of baby boomers have moved into cities and have no interest in taking over the small factories or repair shops started by their parents in their now-depopulating hometowns. More than 40,000 small firms a year are in need of a successor, government data shows. As angst over the issue grows, high-profile dramas have played out in public. When furniture-giant founder Katsuhisa Otsuka tried to oust his daughter Kumiko from the company’s board in 2015, he said at a press conference that he had “made a bad child”. Kumiko won the battle, which played out on the front pages of major newspapers for months, but the company’s declining performance forced it to merge with an electronics company earlier this year.


Pretty much the same issue being faced by immigrant 1st/2nd generation Americans who kickstart a business lol. Most of their children get a degree or a job in the oil fields and suddenly carpentry and other construction industries have a median age of 42, have extremely high requirements and rising costs and payments.


Most of these are convenience stores, restaurants, five and dimes etc. And most of them are heavily government subsidized. Not a lot of valuable knowledge will be lost.


I consistently get into arguments with people in this sub about how a shrinking population is poison to an economy and yet i see Japan as such obvious real world proof of that thesis.