Report on the 14th research group meeting of the AJG at Waseda University

The research group on the International Economy and Management of the Association of Japanese Geographers held a research meeting at Waseda University on March 22, 2016. About ten participants listened to the presentation of Professor Ishimaru, from the University of Teacher Education, Fukuoka. He gave a presentation about entrepreneurship in Japan and its spatial characteristics. The content is summarized below. After the presentation we had a fruitful discussion on the subject. We also discussed our future agenda of the research group SIEM.

Title of the presentation: Start-up business environment in Japan and regional characteristics of entrepreneurs
Presenter: Tetsushi Ishimaru (Univ. of Teacher Education Fukuoka)

This presentation aims to explain the outlook of entrepreneurship in Japan based on previous research: its overall and spatial characteristics of entrepreneurs, and the support systems for entrepreneurs.
Firstly, Prof. Ishimaru pointed out that regarding the poor performance of entrepreneurs, typical country-oriented factors exist: a) the availability of institutional supports, b) availability of finance, c) availability of business services for starting new businesses, d) characteristics of targeted markets, and e) current situations of entrepreneurship in the country.
Secondly, he emphasized the diversity of regional characteristics of entrepreneurship in Japan. Start-ups in large metropolitan areas show good performance but at the same time the rate of failure is high as well. There is a clear contrast between metropolitan areas and peripheral regions. In metropolitan areas, there are many entrepreneurs who focus on “business-opportunity oriented” dynamics. Therefore, they anticipate pursuing business opportunities as an advantage of metropolises centering on information for “newness.” In the rural regions, there are fewer opportunities but the start-ups of “life oriented” entrepreneurs targeting limited local demands dominate. For entrepreneurs in peripheral regions, public support by the local governments and related agencies are most important. Although there are a variety of support packages by local governments and related agencies, it is not clear whether these measures help entrepreneurs to prevail in the long-term in those regions. Therefore, it is critical for further research to clarify growth of employment, increase of income and/or satisfaction of consumers in the regions as important measures of entrepreneurial potential.

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