I NOUE TOYOSAKU moved to Tokyo in 1913 and became an apprentice to a metalworker. When he struck out on his own a few years later he found profit making scissors for hair salons. The company he founded, Tokosha, now sells its Joewell brand scissors in more than 50 countries, for as much as ¥330,000 ($2,900) a pop. "We make scissors in the Japanese countryside but export to New York, London and Paris," boasts Inoue Kenji, a grandson of the founder and Tokosha's current boss. Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS Android . Companies such as Tokosha, which has around 50 employees, make up a big share of Japan's economy. The country has some 3.6m small and medium-size enterprises ( SME s), which employ 70% of workers (in Britain the figure is 61%). These firms are less productive than peers in other wealthy places. The gap between the labour productivity of Japan's SME s and its bigger companies is greater than the average in the OECD , a club of rich countries. In the coming years even the better small firms may face a reckoning. Hundreds of thousands of profitable businesses responsible for millions of jobs risk shutting down… Read full this story
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