Consider the family-run hotel Zengoro Hoshi. It’s been in the family for 1 300 years, handed down 46 generations. It’s even in the Guinness Book of Records. How do they do it? Especially when some ancient practices, like handing down your business to your son, have persisted?
The answer is simple: Adult adoption. If you haven’t got a son to bestow your business, or your existing son would rather enjoy the lifestyle he’s afforded than reign over it, adopt one better-suited.
This practice can take two forms, either find yourself a suitable successor and adopt him into the family, or marry off your daughter to your chosen one and then adopt him.
Think this is a little out of the ordinary? Japan has the second highest adoption rate in the world, clocking in at more than 80 000 a year. Most of these also happen to be adult men in their 20s and 30s.
What’s more, this isn’t some back-alley arrangement either, some of Japan’s most powerful businesses including car-makers Toyota and Suzuki, camera manufacturer Canon and soy sauce company Kikkomon are ‘family businesses’.
As it happens, Suzuki is famously known in Japan to have been led by adopted sons. The current chairman and CEO, Osamu Suzuki, is the fourth adopted son in a row to run the company.