Japanese Billionaires

I was bored on the Internet one day when I found the Forbes list of the World’s Richest People. Pretty interesting: 3 people from Microsoft and Michael Dell are in the top 25, and the IKEA founder is #6. So since I only really give a crap about Japanese stuff, I’m going to introduce you to Japan’s billionaires (names are given name first this time). There are quite a few of them, so expect this as part of an ongoing series. Or you can just read it for yourself!

The first billionaire from Japan doesn’t even show up until number 77. It’s Nobutaka Saji, heir to Japan drink giant Suntory. Love the mustache. I went to a school owned by Suntory, so I guess I should be grateful:

Nobutada Saji & family 77
59 , inherited

Source: beverages

Net Worth: $5.8 bil down

Country of citizenship: Japan
Residence: Hyogo, Japan
Industry: Beverages
Marital Status: married
University of California at Los Angeles, Master of Business Administration

While Suntory sales fell nearly 5% last year, profits rose 13% to $219 million thanks to more effective supply-chain management. From a spiffy new $190 million new headquarters in Tokyo’s bay area the company is aggressively pushing its products in China, mainly Shanghai. Though it specializes in liquid and food, Suntory—against all odds—engineered the world’s first blue rose, which it plans to introduce to the market in a few years.

Next up at number 80 (tied with British nobility and a Saudi banker who pays no interest in accordance with “Islamic banking rules”) is personal finance mogul Yoshitaka Fukuda, founder of the dreaded Aiful (slogan: “With heartful communication”). Their commercials are inescapable in Japan (they feature an old man who decides to go into debt after falling in love with an adorable little dog), and they have spawned a slew of equally-annoying imitators:

Yoshitaka Fukuda & family 80
57 , self made

Source: credit

Net Worth: $5.6 bil up

Country of citizenship: Japan
Residence: Kyoto, Japan
Industry: Finance
Marital Status: married , 3 children
High School, Drop Out

His Aiful took the lead as Japan’s largest consumer finance company in terms of sales, thanks to the stumble of scandal-tainted rival Takefuji. Last year profits rose 4% to $4.5 billion. A Chihuahua featured in Aiful commercials became an overnight sensation, and Chihuahuas selling for $1,500 a pop replaced dachshunds as pet store favorites. But all was not rosy. In August Fukuda was found guilty of failing to declare $647,000 in income between 2000 and 2001. Fukuda ias (sic) an avid fisherman, focusing on sweetfish in particular.

At 84 we have another personal financier, the head of Takefuji, who has been embroiled in a scandal of sorts:

Yasuo Takei & family 84
75 , self made

Source: credit

Net Worth: $5.5 bil down

Country of citizenship: Japan
Residence: Tokyo, Japan
Industry: Finance
Marital Status: married , 3 children

Two years ago Takei, founder of consumer loan giant Takefuji, was arrested on wire-tapping charges stemming from allegations that he compelled employees to tap the phones of journalists critical of his company. He was found guilty in November and sentenced to a four-year probation of sorts. Should he violate the terms of that agreement, he will face a prison sentence of at least three years. The results of his bad behavior haven’t been good for Takefuji, which saw rivals like Acom and Promise encroach on its turf. Last year (year ending March 2004) Takefuji’s net profit fell 21% to $708 million on diminished sales.

We won’t find another Japanese billionaire until number 103, politician, businessman, and golf course heir Eitaro Itoyama. Seems like the consummate Japanese businessman. Oh, and did I mention he’s a blogger?

Eitaro Itoyama 103
62 , inherited

Source: golf courses

Net Worth: $4.9 bil –

Country of citizenship: Japan
Residence: Tokyo, Japan
Industry: Real Estate
Marital Status: married , 2 children
Nippon University, Bachelor of Arts / Science

Owns vast, privately held real estate portfolio. Itoyama, a former politician, is a large shareholder of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry and JAL. A vocal shareholder, he publicly criticizes Mitsubishi in his sporadically maintained online journal. One of his entries includes a vociferous gripe against Mitsubishi Motors CEO Takashi Nishioka, for throwing money into rebuilding Mitsubishi Motors. “If he was really that capable, he would have been able to inflate the stock price much higher,” he said. “What in the world kind of math did he come up with?”

That’s all for now. Stay tuned!

5 thoughts on “Japanese Billionaires”

  1. I know this guy called Kuri-bou who has all these nutty plans about real estate in Japan… he might just be up in that list someday.

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