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A subculture of entrepreneurship hatches in Japan
A subculture of entrepreneurship hatches in Japan

For years, Japan has been searching for a way to get its economic mojo back, and increasingly it's looking to people like 17-year-old high school dropout Yoichiro Mikami as the answer. In a conformist culture where the socially acceptable road to success has typically meant cram school, matriculation at a prestigious university, then a lifelong climb up the ladder at a big bank or industrial conglomerate, Mikami has begun to write his own unconventional, entrepreneurial playbook. As a 13-year-old, he won about $50,000 in a student business contest with an idea for an Airbnb-type service. "I had no idea about start-ups then," Mikami said; and under Japanese law, he was...

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