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How Walmart flopped in Japan, and elsewhere overseas

New majority holders KKR and Rakuten race to revive battered Seiyu brand

Walmart's foreign flops can be attributed largely to tone-deaf management, which failed to take into account local business customs and other concerns. (Photo by Yo Tanaka)

TOKYO -- The overseas outlets of U.S. retail giant Walmart have been burdened by a jinx, the severity of which seems inversely proportional to their distance from the American mainland. In other words, the further away, the weaker their earnings.

This jinx was often mentioned by Walmart employees about 15 years ago when the world's biggest retailer retreated from Germany and South Korea. Whispers of the "jinx" resurfaced again after Walmart pulled out of Brazil in 2018 and Britain in 2020.

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