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Startups

Entrepreneurship beckons Japan's bright young bureaucrats

Cabinet Office alum's wandering around Singapore in a lion suit reaps dividends

Government buildings in central Tokyo. Japan's startup scene is beginning to lure larger numbers of bureaucrats out of government ministries.

TOKYO -- It was 1996, Tomotaka Goji had graduated from the University of Tokyo, Japan's most prestigious academic institution, and joined what was then the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. He was on the elite track in one of the country's most powerful ministries.

Two years later he helped craft the Limited Partnership Act for Investment under Kaoru Yosano, then the minister of international trade and industry. It was part of Japan's "Big Bang" financial deregulation. Goji created a system of direct financing, which aimed to funnel money into startups through venture capital funds.

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