Toys “R” Us Japan

I do not believe the Japanese have chosen freely to have these limitations. All we would
have to do is open a large retail store where prices were 40% less and choices were very broad.
If the Japanese consumer didn’t like products offered in that fashion, then the store would not
be a success. . . .
—Carla Hills, United States Trade Representative, February 1990
In early 1991, Toys “R” Us seemed poised on the brink of a high profile entry into the world’s
second largest toy market. A “category killer” that enjoyed phenomenal success in the United States
and Europe, Toys “R” Us had tried for several years to crack the lucrative but forbidding Japanese
market. At every step, the U.S. company had faced difficulty and opposition. Japanese retailers had
tried repeatedly to block the chain’s entrance, as had small shopkeepers from the area around
Niigata, site of the first Toys “R” Us store. The Japanese media had loudly denounced Toys “R” Us
as the “black ship of Kawasaki,” and a host of Japanese toy manufacturers, including Nintendo, had
refused to deal directly with the U.S. retailer

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