Japan’s richest people, 2009 edition

The new Forbes list is out and this is apparently the 2009 lineup of Japanese plutocrats:

1. Tadashi Yanai (Uniqlo), $6.1 billion
2. Kunio Busujima (Sankyo), $5.2 billion
3. Hiroshi Yamauchi (Nintendo), $4.5 billion
4. Akira Mori (Mori Trust), $4.2 billion
5. Masayoshi Son (Softbank), $3.9 billion
6. Eitaro Itoyama (free agent), $3.7 billion
7. Hiroshi Mikitani (Rakuten), $3.6 billion
8. Nobutada Saji (Suntory), $3.5 billion
9. Hiroko Takei (Takefuji heiress/widow), $2.8 billion
10. Takemitsu Takizaki (Keyence), $2.4 billion

Interesting collection. No really earth-shattering moves on this list, other than the ascendancy of Uniqlo, one of the great inferior goods that’s profiting from this recession. (More on these companies here.)

Adamu had some more commentary on the “usual suspects” back in 2005: Saji, Itoyama and the late Mr. Takei were all on the list back then.

  1. We may need to coordinate posts… I was going to post something around this time too but I saw your timer on. But then Roy posted one right after you!

    Anyway, we need to stop wasting our time listing these people. It’s time to start trying to become their English teachers.

  2. Yeah, we really should try and spread posting out instead of doing like, 5 in one day and then none for a week-which I know has happened many times in the past.

  3. The emperor should always be number one on this list.

    Itoyama and Saji make their money without the help of the stock market, which is quite admirable, unless of course you think that crime and booze are not admirable industries to be in.

  4. Technically, the emperor is probably the poorest person in Japan, since all of “his” property actually belongs to the state and gets doled out by the Diet.

  5. I’ve heard the emperor isn’t even allowed to use a phone himself. It may be an exaggeration, but he could be the only adult in Japan without a keitai. I mean, half the homeless guys I see have one.

  6. His daughter,former Princess Norinomiya,noe become a commoner Kuroda Sayako used to call up my senpai at Keio Birdwatching club.He used to get a call from chamberlaun in advance.Back then,Saaya was a member of the birdwatching club of Gakushuin and then worked as a secretary at Yamashina Institute of Ornithology.She always showed up to our booth during school festival to say hello.

  7. On the Emperor:
    Not all of the Imperial Family property belongs to the state. Only the palaces, I hear. As far as him being poor, in the sense that he has no ‘income’ (just a big-ass stipend), he is not wealthy like Itoyama, but he has very little liabilities, so his net worth should be significant.

    On cell phones:
    My brother-in-law designs semi-conductors at Fujitsu, and doesn’t own a keitai. There are more folk out there than you would think.

    On Itoyama:
    I was talking more about the fact that everyone else in the list is benefiting (or not, as the case may be) from their companies being publicly listed as a source of raising capital.

    I wonder if Itoyama flies JAL or his own private jet. I will have to ask him at our next eikaiwa lesson.

  8. It’s in the constitution that MacArthur wrote….

    第8条 皇室に財産を譲り渡し、又は皇室が、財産を譲り受け、若しくは賜与することは、国会の議決に基かなければならない。

    So all that property not only belongs to the state, it takes a Diet resolution to move it! Fortunately, they gave the imperial family a little bit of statutory leeway to use the property, in the form of a 皇室経済法 which gives pre-approval for certain routine transactions:

    第2条 左の各号の一に該当する場合においては、その度ごとに国会の議決を経なくても、皇室に財産を譲り渡し、又は皇室が財産を譲り受け、若しくは贈与することができる。
    1.相当の対価による売買等通常の私的経済行為に係る場合
    2.外国交際のための儀礼上の贈答に係る場合
    3.公共のためになす遺贈又は遺産の賜与に係る場合
    4.前各号に掲げる場合を除く外、毎年4日1日から翌年3月31日までの期間内に、皇室がなす賜与又は譲受に係る財産の価額が、別に法律で定める一定価額に達するに至るまでの場合

    But still, give it some thought. If someone else has to tell you you can use something, is it really yours? The Diet has the right to pull the Emperor’s allowance at any time.

    There’s even a scholarly debate as to whether the Emperor is a citizen of Japan. He seems to constitutionally lack certain rights which citizens should constitutionally have (property, political rights), and he appears to have certain duties which manifest themselves at the direction of the elected government. In many ways, he is actually a slave of the state rather than its leader.

  9. It gets better. I’ve read that there’s even serious debate over whether or not the Emperor has the legal right to abdicate the throne, since nothing in the modern constitution or legal code specifically allows it.

  10. “Little they know that it’s so hard to find/One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind…The wealthiest person is a pauper at times/Compared to the man with a satisfied mind” (Rhodes/Hayes)

    The Emperor has a satisfied mind. Top of the list.

    I jest. But I would seek to argue against the idea that he is the poorest person in Japan, or a slave to the state. He is at the very top, not the bottom, of the so-called “Anatomy of Dependence” that makes Japan tick.

  11. OK, I’ll grant that he isn’t the poorest. I’m $100k in the hole thanks to law school, so even if the emperor owns nothing he’s still worth more than me.