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Who Are The Richest People In Japan?

The three richest individuals in Japan each had a very unique path to success. The combined wealth of Japan’s top three males is $115.6 billion. Let’s examine their narratives.

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The three richest individuals in Japan each had a very unique path to success. First, Takemitsu Takizaki established a research and development firm that creates bar-code scanners and other parts for factory automation systems. Masayoshi Son, the other, created SoftBank. The world’s first retailer Uniqlo was created by Tadashi Yanai, Japan’s richest man, who mostly achieved success by imitating The Gap’s business strategy. The three wealthiest men in Japan are together worth $115.6 billion. Let’s examine their narratives.

Takizaki Takemitsu 32.2 billion
Takemitsu Takizaki is the founder of Keyence, a company that creates sensors, bar-code readers, vision systems, digital microscopes, and other electronic components for factory automation systems. Keyence does not produce the finished goods; rather, it focuses only on product design and development. Takizaki established the business in 1974, and since then, thanks to significant R&D expenditures, Keyence has grown and amassed a sizable collection of technology patents. The companies Toyota and Toshiba both use Keyence products. Takemitsu Takizaki is the 26% owner of the business.

$34.9 billion owned by Masayoshi Son
Masayoshi Son’s most well-known role now is that of SoftBank Capital’s founder and CEO. However, Son jumped on the computer chip bandwagon early and patented and sold his first microchip while still in college for $1 million dollars. Son serves as CEO of SoftBank Mobile as well. In 1980, he received his BA in economics from Berkeley. He founded the Japanese internet and telecoms company SoftBank a year after graduating. The Tokyo-based company has a corporate profile that includes various other enterprises like Japanese broadband company SoftBank BB, data center company IDC Frontier, gaming company GungHo Online Entertainment, and the publishing company SoftBank Creative. Additionally, SoftBank has a number of joint ventures with overseas corporations with Japanese subsidiaries, including Yahoo!, E-Trade, Ustream.tv, EF Education First, and Morningstar.

Tadashi Yanai,
(Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images)

T. D. Yanai $50 billion
Uniqlo founder Tadashi Yanai is the richest person in Japan. He began his career thirty years ago with a single, run-down t-shirt shop that he reluctantly inherited from his father. Yanai intended to give the shop his own unique touch. He aspired to establish an empire because one store wasn’t enough. In the early 1980s, Tadashi greatly liked the work of American management guru Peter Drucker, who believed that morality and wealth need not be incompatible. Yanai could build his empire and become a very wealthy man without corrupting his soul. Yanai learned from Drucker’s lessons that it was best to consider what customers want first rather than what the business (or owner) wants to sell. So, he swiftly expanded his menswear business to include women’s clothing, and in 1984, he changed the name of the business to Unique Clothing Warehouse (which he later shortened to Uniqlo). He quickly started growing in the suburbs as well.

Yanai set out to research and meticulously imitate what The Gap did in the late 1980s. Uniqlo copied The Gap’s business model of producing and exclusively selling all of its own clothing. For Uniqlo and its parent firm Fast Retailing, copying The Gap would prove to be a tremendously successful business move. Tadashi made a decision in 1993 that was completely unheard of for a Japanese company: He moved all production to China. This enabled him to lower the price of the clothing he sold while also boosting profits. Yanai was on an acquisition binge throughout the 2008 and 2009 financial crisis. He purchased clothing items from higher-end brands Theory and Helmut Lang. The parent company of all the purchases is called Fast Retailing, of which Uniqlo remains the most valuable asset.