In a country where the tradition of having a family name dates back to only 150 years, leveraging it for the sake of business or legacy sounds just about right. There is folklore to the Guinness World Records holding ‘world’s oldest family business’ – the hotel and the name – Zengoro Hoshi, which spans 46 generations and 1,300 years. It all started when Garyo Hoshi was ordered by his master to build a guest house and preach Buddhism to his visitors. He later adopted a son to continue the tradition.
So basically Japan has been open to adopting sons and son-in-laws for the sake of carrying on family businesses and family names. Even the most prominent businesses like Toyota and Suzuki, camera-maker Canon and soy sauce firm Kikkoman have a tradition of adopting sons to continue the family business. The current chairman and CEO of Suzuki, Osamu Suzuki is the fourth adopted son in a row to run the company.
Mukoyoshi, or Japanese-style adoption, is unique to this country and very natural. No wonder Japan has the world’s second highest adoption rate; it is estimated at more than 80,000 a year. A good percentage of this is adult men in their 20s and 30s. One of the reasons why adult adoption is looked upon as a good thing, is that when they take on a new name, the adopted person is treated as if he has received an honor or an award for something that they have accomplished.