According to Forbes magazine’s 2017 list of the wealthiest individuals in Japan, there were 34 Japanese-born billionaires in the world, not all of whom resided in Japan. The ten wealthiest Japanese residents had net worths ranging between $3.65 billion and $20.4 billion.
10. Masahiro Miki $3.65 Billion
Miki founded and owns the majority of discount shoe store chain ABC-Mart.
The chain has benefited from the influx of tourists into Japan, especially from China and Southeast Asia. ABC-Mart own U.S. shoe brand LaCrosse. A former amateur boxer, Miki founded ABC-Mart in the 1980s. He stepped down as chairman of the publicly-traded company in 2007.
9. Masatoshi Ito $3.7 Billion
Masatoshi Ito is honorary chairman of Japan’s biggest retail group, Seven & i Holdings. Seven & i Holdings has 60,000 stores in 17 countries and nearly $54 billion in annual revenues.
The company is best known for its thousands of 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan, the U.S. and China. The company also controls the franchises for Denny’s restaurants in Japan and owns department stores, supermarkets, and financial services firms. Ito, Seven &i’s largest shareholder, owns about 11% of the company.
8. Hideyuki Busujima & family $4.2 Billion
Hideyuki Busujima is the son of Sankyo founder Kunio Busujima, who died in October 2016. Hideyuki has been chairman and CEO of pachinko-machine maker Sankyo since 2008.
Kunio transferred his shares of publicly-traded Sankyo to Hideyuki in 2014. The net worth estimate includes the value of Sankyo shares owned by Hideyuki’s two sisters.
7. Akira Mori & family $4.4 Billion
Akira Mori is the chairman, co-CEO and owner of real estate developer Mori Trust. Mori Trust owns more than 100 properties in Tokyo and across Japan, including office buildings and hotels.
In 2016, Akira Mori appointed his daughter, Miwako Date, to President and co-CEO of Mori Trust. Mori Trust purchased two office buildings in Boston in December 2016. Mori Trust said in December 2016 that it planned to invest $7 billion in new projects over the next decade.
6. Keiichiro Takahara & family $4.5 Billion
Takahara is the founder of Unicharm, maker of Moony and MamyPoko diapers, sanitary napkins and other personal-care goods. The Tokyo-listed company is run by his son Takahisa.
The aging demographic and growing population in Asia has been a boon for business. The company gets about half of its revenues from sales in Asia, excluding Japan.
5. Hiroshi Mikitani $6.1 Billion
Mikitani is founder and CEO of Rakuten, Japan’s biggest e-commerce retailer. In 2016 Rakuten shut down retail operations in the U.K., Austria and Spain.
In 2015, Rakuten invested $300 million in ride-sharing app and Uber competitor Lyft. Rakuten spent $900 million in 2014 to buy messaging service Viber, which competes with Facebook’s WhatsApp. Rakuten led a $100 million investment round in Pinterest in 2012.
4.Takemitsu Takizaki $12.5 Billion
Takizaki is the founder of Keyence, a supplier of sensors and electronic components for factory automation systems. He stepped down as chairman in March 2015 but remains on the board of directors.
Sales to customers outside of Japan have grown steadily and account for 50% of revenue, according to JP Morgan. Customers include autoparts makers, electronics firms and food packagers. Takizaki owns a 25% stake in the Tokyo-listed company.
3. Nobutada Saji & family $13.2 Billion
Nobutada Saji is chairman of beverage powerhouse Suntory Holdings. Suntory bought U.S. Beam, purveyor of Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbon, for $16 billion in 2014.
Nobuhiro Torii, a great grandson of Suntory’s founder, was promoted to chief operating officer and executive vice president of Suntory Holdings in 2016. Suntory was founded in 1899. Stakes of Nobutada Saji’s family members are included in this net worth estimate.
2. Tadashi Yanai & family $16.4 Billion
Yanai built and runs Tokyo-listed retail clothing empire Fast Retailing, parent of the Uniqlo chain. Fast Retailing also owns two other chains: J Brand and Theory.
Yanai is betting on growth in Asia, particularly China and Thailand, for Uniqlo. Yanai shelved a 2012 goal to open 1,000 Uniqlo stores in the U.S.; it had 47 American stores as of March 2017.
1. Masayoshi Son $20.4 Billion
Japan’s richest man, mashayoshi Son founded and runs SoftBank, a mobile telecom and investment firm. In December 2016, Son promised Donald Trump that SoftBank would lead a $50 billion investment from the “SoftBank Vision Fund” into U.S. firms.
Saudi Arabia’s government is the biggest investor in the SoftBank Vision Fund; it may invest as much as $45 billion over five years.
Apple, chip firm Qualcomm, contract manufacturing firm Foxconn, and the family office of Larry Ellison are investors in the Vision Fund.
SoftBank acquired struggling U.S. mobile phone carrier Sprint Nextel for $22 billion in 2013.