Summary Box: Japan startups take on Silicon Valley

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LOOKING OVERSEAS: Small but growing numbers of Japanese entrepreneurs are jumping into the startup scene in northern California.

FACTORS BEHIND THAT: Some venture capitalists believe last year’s earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear disaster that followed compelled many Japanese to take an increasingly uncertain future into their own hands.

AN EXAMPLE: Naoki Shibata, 30, had an executive-level position at online retailing giant Rakuten Inc. and an assistant professorship at the prestigious University of Tokyo. Last June he launched AppGrooves, an iPhone application discovery tool. He says, “If you want to reach a global market, then you have to start from Silicon Valley.”