Pioneer Helped Turn Her Family Store into Japan’s Biggest Retailer

Chizuko Kojima, who has died at 106, helped turn her family store into Japan’s biggest retailer.

Pioneer, Her Family Store, Japan

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TOKYO—First her father died young, then her mother, then her older sister. At 23, Chizuko Okada inherited the job of running her family’s clothing store in Mie prefecture, Japan.

It was 1939, and war with America was just around the corner. Few could have foreseen that the little business would develop into Japan’s largest retailer by sales—or that a woman would be its driving force.

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