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Business trends

After Mercari, Japanese unicorns closer to extinction

Reluctance of venture capital to invest stifles startup scene

Mercari co-founder and CEO Shintaro Yamada (center, with red tie) and his employees pose during a ceremony for the company's stock market debut at the Tokyo Stock Exchange on July 19. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- Following Mercari's blockbuster stock market debut Tuesday, Japan's lineup of unlisted startups valued above $1 billion has shrunk to basically two, underscoring the domestic tech industry's persistent failure to cultivate unicorns.

Mercari's ended its initial session with a market capitalization of 717.2 billion yen ($6.53 billion), making it the new leader of the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Mothers board for startups. Now the only widely recognized Japanese unicorns left are artificial intelligence developer Preferred Networks, and MTG, the maker of the Sixpad wearable training gear.

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