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  1. What Kinds of Work Do People Do in Japan?
  2. Where Men and Women Work in Japan
  3. Reviving Basic Industries in Postwar Japan
  4. Japan’s Shipbuilding Industry
  5. Mining: An Industry in Decline
  6. Industrial Policy and Depressed Industries
  7. Consumer Goods Industries
  8. Small Firms in the Japanese Economy
  9. Links Between Large and Small Firms
  10. The Japanese Electronics Industry
  11. Beginning of the Japanese Automobile Industry
  12. The Rise of the Japanese Auto Industry and Auto Exports
  13. The Mobile Telephone Industry
  14. The Computer Game Industry
  15. Shopping Habits and Retail Stores
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Two men stand in front of lumber they have just cut in a small factory
Workers at a small furniture factory in Iwaizumi, Iwate, Japan, use wood from the nearbyforests.
Photo Courtesy of Iwaizumi Junbokukagaku.
Small Firms in the Japanese Economy
The Japanese economy has a very high proportion of small firms. In manufacturing, small and medium-sized firms with less than 300 employees comprise 99.4% of all firms and employ three quarters (75.1%) of manufacturing industry employees. These smaller firms produce about half (51.6%) of the manufacturing output. Most wholesale and retail firms are also small. Nearly 85 % have less than 10 employees. About half (48.7%) of all retail stores have only one or two employees. However, the number of retail stores owned by individuals is decreasing. Many small stores do not have a successor, and they are losing business to convenience stores and larger retailers. Generally, small firms pay lower wages and cannot offer their employees the same level of security and benefits as large firms. They are more likely to hire older and parttime workers because they cannot compete for the new school graduates that large firms want to hire.
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