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Japanese founder of Daiso chain passes away

TOKYO, Japan — Hirotake Yano, the Japanese 100-yen shop pioneer and founder of the Daiso chain, has died, the company said.

The billionaire "passed away due to heart failure at the age of 80 in Hiroshima" on February 12, Daiso said in a statement.

After unsuccessful stints at his father-in-law's fish business and peddling encyclopedias, Yano started selling goods from a street stall in 1972.

Five years later, tired of having to put different prices on different items, Yano launched Daiso where all goods cost 100 yen (less than P40).

Helped by stagnant wages and prices, Daiso outlets — selling everything from the useful to the silly, and sometimes for more than 100 yen — are now ubiquitous.

The firm began expanding across Asia and abroad, beginning in Taiwan in 2001, and 990 of its 5,350 stores are outside Japan, according to its website.

"I have failed many times... But I kept going because I thought there was nothing else I could do," local media quoted Yano as saying in 2001. "It's the value and the fun that customers can find in 100 yen. They get mental satisfaction from their shopping experience."

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