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Metro joins Walmart as latest outsider unable to conquer retail Japan

Fragmented market proves daunting while McDonald's and Starbucks thrive

Metro's first store in Japan opened in 2002. The Chiba outlet featured 14,000 products, from produce and beverages to kitchen equipment. 

TOKYO -- Germany's Metro AG will soon join a long list of foreign retail groups that have been forced to exit Japan.

It would be a mistake, however, to blame the failures on a clash of business cultures. Icons like McDonald's and Starbucks are able to thrive here. So the nagging question remains: what makes Japan's retail market so impenetrable?

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