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‘Era of mass closures’: the Japan businesses without successors

Japan demographics business
This photo taken on June 20, 2023 shows an employee working at the small private enterprise machinery factory J&A Sakura in Yachimata, Chiba prefecture. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)

Kiyoshi Hashimoto’s machinery factory outside Tokyo should be buzzing with industry. Instead, it’s so quiet you can hear him practising the recorder.

The 82-year-old entrepreneur founded his company nearly 40 years ago, but well past retirement age he has neither a successor nor a buyer for a business that retains loyal clients.