Can Entrepreneurs Save Japan?

Written by BCCJ
October 23, 2013

Written by BCCJ
October 23, 2013

The BCCJ was delighted to welcome to an “Inside My Company” session at the Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo, one of Japan’s leading young entrepreneurs, Daisuke Iwase, co-founder of Lifenet Insurance Company.

Iwase, who grew up in Bromley, Kent, began the October 22 luncheon event by conveying his appreciation for the British education system: “what sets me apart from my peers in Japan is being able to feel confident in being different”.

Having raised JPY13.2b capital to begin Lifenet in 2008, Iwase summed up the success of his company: “We have brought together young executives with old industry seniors, to disrupt an established industry, with which consumers were unhappy”.

In an entertaining Q&A session, Iwase answered questions from the floor on topics such as:

  • Marketing a successful start-up in Japan
  • Disrupting traditional industries
  • Recruiting college graduates
  • The future of the Japanese economy
  • Working across generations
  • Creating sustainable business platforms
The audience was reminded by a humorous Iwase: “To be a successful entrepreneur in Japan you have to work with established companies – and old men”.



Iwase started his career as a strategy consultant at The Boston Consulting Group and was engaged in private equity investing at Ripplewood Japan. He co-founded Lifenet Insurance Company in 2008 and assumed his current role of President and COO in 2013. Iwase was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2010, and is an author of many best selling books in Japan, including “Seimeihoken no Karakuri (The Gimmicks of Life Insurance)”. He is also a member of the Tokyo Committee of Human Rights Watch, a non-profit organisation dedicated to defending human rights worldwide. Iwase is a graduate of The University of Tokyo (Law) and Harvard Business School (MBA with High Distinction).


Event description

Where are Japan’s entrepreneurs? Who are the successors of Soichiro Honda and Akio Morita? Or the contemporaries of Brin and Page; of Zuckerberg and Dorsey; or Warner and Ive? It’s clear that the country desperately needs new businesses and new business leaders – indicated by PM Abe’s “third arrow” platform. But something is missing: either there are not enough people trying, or the system does not allow them to succeed – because true entrepreneurs in Japan are few and far between. So it’s a pleasure today to hear from a someone who definitely can shine a light on the issue: Daisuke Iwase is one of the co-founders of Lifenet, which is truly shaking up the world of life insurance in Japan. You won’t want to miss this.


A selection of photos from this event can be found HERE

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