CARF-Capital Asset Planning Inc. Joint Seminars on “Family Businesses and Japan’s Economy: Key Actors in Regional Revival”


Since the global financial crisis, family businesses have gained worldwide attention for their strong management, and research on them in Europe and the United States is making steady progress. However, in Japan, research in this field is lagging behind, and in contrast with much of the rest of the world, misconceptions regarding family businesses are growing. (A recent definition of family businesses that is accepted worldwide is that these are “firms in which the family of the founder has an influential stake in the management and/or stockholdings of the firm,” and this is also the definition used in this program.)

Common misconceptions in Japan are that:

  1. Family businesses are all long-established firms that are irrelevant to the general public.
  2. Family businesses are rife with internal strife and their business performance lags that of other firms.
  3. Family businesses have a negative image both in Japan and abroad.

As will be outlined in detail in the seminars, these views are incorrect. In fact:

  1. 97% of firms in Japan are family businesses, and venture firms (owned by the founder) are also classified as family businesses.
  2. Both in Japan and abroad family businesses perform better than other types of firms.
  3. The only countries in the world where family businesses have a negative image are Japan and Korea.

Thus, while there are these historic misconceptions in Japan, family businesses in fact are important pillars of the Japanese economy and it should be noted that many leading firms are family businesses (Toyota, Suntory, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Fast Retailing, Softbank etc.). In particular, most key companies in rural areas are family businesses and have an excellent record in terms of in longevity and innovation.

In the first year of this seminar, we would like to begin by showing the actual situation of family businesses in Japan and convey a correct understanding of family businesses (i.e., improve their image). Based on this, the ultimate goal is to revitalize the economy, particularly regional economies, where the share of family businesses is particularly high, with the aim of reviving regional economies.

Program Outline

Family business management consists of three complex elements: (1) the family, (2) business, and (3) ownership. In particular, unlike in other firms, a notable element is that the family is involved, meaning that there is the potential for internal strife. In other words, in contrast with analyses of other firms, research on family businesses requires a broader approach that includes elements such as family sociology.

Therefore, based on the various different aspects that need to be considered in the case of family businesses, for these seminars, we invite not only managers of family businesses, but also experts in management consulting and innovation, specialist practitioners in business succession, etc., to learn about the strengths, weaknesses, and other issues of family businesses from a variety of perspectives, focusing in particular on their role in the revival of regional economies.

Moreover, since it is difficult to cover all the major issues relating to family businesses in only a few seminars, we will discuss major issues not addressed (such as research on family businesses in various other countries) in the final summary to the greatest extent possible.