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Honorable Shopkeepers Fight for their Lives

Japanese mom-and-pops are being run out of business by chains and discounters

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One more case of Japanese culture emulating the Americans: The country's small specialty shops are being run out of business by chain stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, discount stores, category killers – and, not surprisingly, the Internet.

Japanese retail has been living with deregulation for 10 years, since the government began to dismantle the list of licenses, permits and other regulatory approvals that were necessary to do business there. However, activist groups have been trying to restore controls on at least a local level, to limit nthe size of newly opened stores, operating hours and the sale of liquor, now a staple in supermarkets and off the backs of trucks.

Japan has struggled with the issue of productivity ever since its booming economy began to stutter in the last decade. Small mom-and-pop stores have been found to be much less productive than their larger chain counterparts.

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