Downtown Rocket
Author: Jun Ikeido
Specifications: ISBN  978-4093862929
407 pages
13.2 x 19.0 cm / 5.3 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shogakukan Inc.
Tokyo, 2010
Awards: Naoki Prize, 2011
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Kohei Tsukuda heads Tsukuda Manufacturing, a developer of small engines in a corner of Tokyo. Although once a researcher of hydrogen rocket engines at the nationally sponsored Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, he had resigned over a failed billion-plus-yen launch and assumed leadership of his family's modest business following the death of his father, the company founder. Now in his mid-forties and his seventh year as president, Tsukuda is hit by troubles that threaten his company's very existence: an important client cancels its contract, while a rival major corporation sues for patent infringement. For a time it seems as though bankruptcy is the only option as the company is refused credit and its financial situation worsens, but eventually with the help of a good lawyer Tsukuda countersues his opponent and wins 5.6 billion yen in damages.

No sooner does that problem settle down, however, than the company's patented valve system emerges as the key to the success of a rocket project at an industrial megamanufacturer, sparking a divisive debate among Tsukuda's employees over whether to sell the rights to the manufacturer and secure profits right away, or make and supply the valve parts themselves. Unable to relinquish his childhood dream of flying a rocket with his own engines, Tsukuda overrides his younger employees and stakes his company's future on the second course . . . This is a business novel alive with the pride and esprit of a small-factory owner fiercely dedicated to fine handworked precision.

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