AKB48 has reshaped the landscape of youth culture in modern Japan. The pop-idol group's rapid rise to stardom across a wide array of formats has provided the country's children with a fairly straightforward path to commercial success: fame is ultimately achieved by attracting a broad fan base via popular vote. Such a strategy encourages young people today to chase dreams of being in the spotlight that many Japanese would have shunned years ago.
Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten Inc looked set to steal a march on rival Amazon.com when it launched its Kobo e-reader and e-book service in Japan last month For CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, it's the first salvo in a wider war that the ebullient Harvard MBA, called Mickey by everyone including his staff, hopes will transform Rakuten into a global player in digital commerce.
Sony's PlayStation Vita may still be brand new, and Nintendo's Wii U has yet to even hit store shelves, but Japanese developer/publisher/social platform GREE doesn't need a new console. Or any console, for that matter. Its platform is virtual, and its growth strategy is extremely aggressive. "We're hiring more than 30 people a month," GREE's US CEO (and international CFO) Naoki Aoyagi told us in an E3 2012 interview.