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Business trends

Japanese celebs put the 'star' in IT startups

Ample venture funding prompts big names to break the showbiz mold

From left: Actor Takayuki Yamada, actress and singer Ko Shibasaki, and Atsushi Tamura, a popular TV personality, have all founded tech startups recently.

TOKYO -- In the old days, Japanese celebrities looking to make some extra cash had a couple of typical options: go into real estate, or perhaps open a restaurant. Add startup founder to the list of side occupations.

Three household names have each launched their own information technology-related startups recently, and they appear to be part of a nascent trend in the entertainment industry. One catalyst is the ample supply of funding in Japan these days. Some may also be motivated by a sense that traditional showbiz is in decline -- a worry backed up by bits of data.

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