But in Japan, budding entrepreneurs face two additional challenges, known here as “wife block” and “parent block.”

The idea of being an entrepreneur is completely at odds with the “Japanese dream” of the security and benefits of lifelong employment at a big company. So if you suggest starting out on your own to pursue some great idea it is likely to be blocked by either your wife (given that budding entrepreneurs in Japan are overwhelmingly male) or your parents.

“In the United States, children make lemonade and earn money, so they experience entrepreneurship at an early age,” said Yoshiaki Ishii, the bureaucrat at the ministry of economy, trade and industry who is in charge of encouraging entrepreneurship.

“But in Japan, we don’t have start-up role models or a good understanding about what a start-up is, so people don’t have much confidence about starting their own business,” he said.