Japan is home to more than half of the world’s oldest companies, with over 20,000 businesses operating for more than a century. This longevity is attributed to Japan’s cultural emphasis on stability and longevity, with businesses often passed down through generations.

The country’s oldest company, a construction firm named Kongō Gumi, was founded in 578 AD and remained family-run until 2006. The company’s longevity was due to its specialisation in building Buddhist temples, a consistent demand in Japan.

Japan’s corporate longevity also stems from the government’s support. Post-war policies encouraged long-term employment, leading to a culture of job security and loyalty. Additionally, Japan’s tax system encourages family businesses to continue through generations.

However, this tradition is under threat from modern economic pressures. The decline in population and shrinking domestic market are challenging these long-standing businesses. Kongō Gumi, for instance, went into liquidation in 2006 due to excessive debt.

Despite these challenges, many of Japan’s centuries-old companies continue to thrive. These companies often have a niche focus, providing goods or services that remain in demand. They also adapt to changing markets, ensuring their survival over centuries.

Go to source article: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/continuously_operating/2014/10/world_s_oldest_companies_why_are_so_many_of_them_in_japan.html?wpsrc=sh_all_mob_tw_bot