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China Crackdown, Hidden Unicorns Fuel Japan’s Big Startup Year

  • Funding remains small compared with U.S. but climbing rapidly
  • Even Masayoshi Son is starting to eye the country’s startups
Updated on

Japan’s startups are attracting increasing interest from overseas investors as the country starts to shake off a reputation as a unicorn-free venture backwater.

More than $3 billion was raised in the first six months of 2021 alone, triple the amount in the same period five years earlier, according to local data tracker Initial. That’s being driven by growing interest from foreign investors with deep pockets, including Sequoia, Soros Capital and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund — as well as Masayoshi Son, whose Vision Fund this year took stakes in Japanese startups for the first time.