Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, is the third largest economy in the world, after the United States and the People’s Republic of China. It is known as one of the most innovative countries in the world, and they have enhanced this reputation through its electronics goods and automobile manufacturing industries. This has resulted into an investment and trade surplus, which in turn, has allowed the country to become the largest creditor nation on earth.
More than a tenth of the financial assets of private individuals are based in Japan. This amounts to almost $15 trillion. This huge amount of money is shared by more than 20 Japanese billionaires, of which the top ten are the following:
1. Tadashi Yanai
Mr. Tadashi Yanai has been consistently ranked as one of the richest men in Japan. He made his fortune through the retail industry, founding Fast Retailing, a group that features the flagship brand Uniqlo, or unique clothing. A graduate of Waseda University, Mr. Yanai is a former winner of the International Retailer of the Year award. He has also been generous to disaster victims, donating a billion yen to the victims of the 2011 earthquake. His family’s total worth is around $10.6 billion.
2. Nobutada Saji
Remember the 2003 movie “Lost in Translation” when Bill Murray’s character went to Japan to endorse Suntory? Well, that company is the fourth largest brewer and food manufacturer of the country. The company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is Mr. Nobutada Saji, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles. Mr. Saji has been at the helm for 11 years, and his family’s net worth is now estimated at $7.9 billion.
3. Masayoshi Son
A Japanese of Korean descent, Mr. Masayoshi Son is the founder and CEO of Softbank and Softbank Mobile. A product of the University of California, Berkeley where he earned money by installing Space Invaders video ystems all over the campus, Mr. Son built his fortune through various computer technology initiatives. He pioneered a company named Unison, as well as a translating device that was eventually bought out by Sharp. He later lost more than $70 billion in the dotcom crash at the turn of the millennium. Still, his family has a net worth amounting to $6.9 billion. He is currently investing in solar power that he aims would be used across the country, thereby ridding Japan of the dangers of nuclear power.
4. Hiroshi Mikitani
Mr. Hiroshi Mikitani is the CEO of Rakuten. He got his training from the Industrial Bank of Japan after completing his studies from Hitotsubashi University and Harvard University. Mr. Mikitani became controversial in 2010 when he insisted on using English as the language of his company. He is not averse to conflicts, as proven by his withdrawal from the powerful business federation called Keidanren in 2011 after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. Mr. Mikitani is worth $6.3 billion.
5. Mr. Kunio Busujima
Are you familiar with those pachinko machines? The chairman of Sankyo, one of the three major makers of this machine, is one of the richest men in Japan. Mr. Kunio Busujima and his family are now worth $5.7 billion. And he is not resting on his laurels either, as Mr. Busujima is collaborating with rock bands to promote new games and attract younger players.
6. Takemitsu Takizaki
Mr. Takemitsu Takizaki is the founder of Keyence Corporation. Originally called Lead Electric when it was established in 1974, the company now has a network of 16 international corporations employing more than 3,000 employees and with annual sales of $2 billion. The company specializes in factory automation. Mr. Takizaki further boosted its operations by becoming the largest shareholder in JustSystems, which is considered as one of the major software development companies in Japan. Mr. Takizaki and his family have a total net worth of $4 billion.
7. Yoshikazu Tanaka
A self-made billionaire, Mr. Yoshikazu Tanaka earned his fortune by developing a social networking service. He is considered one of the youngest persons to make a billion dollars by himself, second only to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Mr. Tanaka was able to distinguish his social networking service by focusing on mobile games and by seeking active partnerships with the big Internet service providers. Mr. Tanaka has a net worth of $3.5 billion.
8. Akira Mori
Mr. Akira Mori was born into wealth. His father, Mr. Taikichiro Mori, was the richest man in the world in both 1991 and 1992. The elder Mr. Mori built his fortune through Mori Building, which he founded after the Second World War. The older brother, Mr. Minoru Mori, later ran the company. After the father passed away in 1993, the company was split up into two, with Mori Building remaining in the brother’s hands, and Mori Trust being headed by Mr. Akira Mori. The latter’s family now has a net worth of $3.2 billion.
9. Kelichiro Takahara
Mr. Kelichiro Takahara is the founder and CEO of the Uni Charm Corporation, a company specializing in feminine hygiene and adult incontinence products. He also heads the board of Uni Charm Petcare Corporation. Mr. Takahara and his family are now worth over $2.9 billion.
10. Han Chang Woo
Another Japanese billionaire with Korean blood in his veins, Mr. Han Chang Woo is the founder of Maruhan Corporation. The company is hugely popular in Japan because it has the largest chain of parlors dedicated to the pachinko machine. Mr. Woo and his family are worth over $2.8 billion, though he made headlines recently for promising to give away a huge portion of his wealth. A certain amount will be set aside for his wife and his company will eventually be turned over to his son, but Mr. Woo has said that he will dedicate the use of his money towards the improvement of relationship between Japan and Korea, who have been bitter rivals in different fields as a result of the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
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