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But in the West, even if you just gave your business away to another person who continued to run it, we would still consider that the same business.

Indeed, the business would continue. The issue is that in the west business owners would not see the merit in just giving a business away for the sake of the age ticking up.

In the west the business would get sold and merged. Only in Japan does the adoption make it a family or lineage thing.

> Only in Japan does the adoption make it a family or lineage thing.

No. Every culture worldwide accepts adoption. A child, grandchild, nephew, etc, continuing a business keeps the business in the family. Whether the child is adopted or not, and regardless of the age of adoption.

You’re not understanding the difference: in most of the world, businesses are carried on because there’s some financial value derived from it, not for the thing itself. Family businesses do exist, and do get passed down, but if the owners of the business don’t have any natural heirs, they’ll wrap it up or sell it. That’s normal.

In Japan, the longevity of the thing has a value of its own, so much so that they’ve invented adult “adoptions”, simply to keep an old business going. The business could be mediocre and barely profitable, but if it’s 300 years old, they’ll find a way to keep that line going.

Maybe they exist, but I’m not aware of any other culture that has taken up the practice of adopting adult males to ensure that a family business remains “family”.

I agree but I think regardless of profitability keeping small/medium businesses around is not just the for the longevity bragging rights. Some of these businesses preserve arts, techniques, handcrafts, recipes etc that might have otherwise been lost. And there is something to be said for street level neighborhood character created by these stores.

Something but...what?

Tge street-level character of a city isn't magically preserved because the acquiring company chose to retain the name. Example: I live near a sushi restaurant that has changed hands six times in my life. Two times they kept the name. One time they kept the facade. Never did they keep the employees. Maybe a token "manager" but the character of the place always shifts.

I like the metaphor because it really does ask the question "how much must one replace to make something indistinguishable from its progenitor?"

These are not the businesses we're looking for.

Adult adoptions to pass on family businesses large and small are somewhat common in Germany. Mostly it's used to save on taxes (nobody cares about the difference of sale and that kind of inheritance) however officially this can't be your (only) reason for adoption. That e.g. got the Darboven and Jacobs families into trouble who wanted to merge their coffee dynasties by adult adoption.

Ancient China also had this kind of tradition.

> regardless of the age of adoption

Are adult adoptions common at all?

Becoming a son-in-law or daughter-in-law certainly counts in this context.

This is apparently a very common thing in farming.

Pretty common to save tax on inheritance I'd say.

it is quite common in the part of India where I come from.

The relentless attack on the family in the West may also be related


Sure but you would't then advertise it as having been in the family for a thousand years.

The article is about century+ old businesses in general, of which family-run ones are a subset.

The article doesn't mention temples being burned down at all.

But you might still say "family run for a thousand years"

more as ad advertisement slogan though. I've never seen someone in the west adopt another adult just to authentically continue a legacy (outside of European monarchies maybe). There is a sense of tradition to these Japanese companies that one doesn't see so often outside of Japan.

Romans used to do adult adoptions. Off the top of my hat, I clearly remember that Cesar adopted Brutus, his killer, as an adult.

Thoroughly agree.

Even in the West we consider adoption to be legitimate.

Considering it is illegal in the UK and frowned upon by the IRS, it leads me to think you are confusing adoption of children with the adoption of adult men.

Note how often these adult men are being adopted along with marrying the daughter of the family. I dare say outside of Japan such an arrangement would be considered weird.

> being adopted along with marrying the daughter of the family.

How does that work? They become both husband and brother to the same person?

Yes, with the proviso that everyone understands that it's different and the taboo against incest doesn't kick in.

In practice what it means is that the couple adopts the family name of the wife, not the husband, which is the name associated with the family business that he's taking over.

Doesn't America have a history of adoption of adult men in gay couples? That allowed them to secure the legal rights of family members before gay marriage was legal. I remember some stories of it being a problem when gay marriage became legal, and they faced legal difficulties if they wanted to marry their adopted father or son.

Of adult males for the sole purpose of keeping a business as a "family" business?

Not always though, sometimes we say they've 'sold out' or are 'not the same'.

E.g. Fuller's (London brewer) now owned by Japanese conglomerate, Church (Northampton shoes, was still in the family) bought by Prada.

Only because the new owner tends not to have a sense of continuity or respect, and it usually is different.

The Churches clearly regretted selling after seeing what Prada did to their company (made it a parody of itself), so they now run Cheaney (a rival) and arguably make better shoes than Church's ever did. Still a sad story though.

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