Hiroshi Mikitani

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Hiroshi Mikitani
Hiroshi Mikitani at the 37th G8 Summit in Deauville 033.jpg
Mikitani at the 37th G8 Summit in May 2011
Born (1965-03-11) March 11, 1965 (age 51)
Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Alma mater Hitotsubashi University, Harvard University
Occupation Founder, CEO and Chairman of Rakuten
Years active 1988–present
Net worth $8.7 billion[1]
Spouse(s) Married
Children Two children

Hiroshi Mikitani Twitter account

Hiroshi Mikitani English Twitter account

Hiroshi Mikitani (三木谷浩史 Mikitani Hiroshi?) (born March 11, 1965) is a Japanese businessman, the co-founder and CEO of Rakuten.

Early life and education[edit]

Mikitani was born in Kobe, Hyogo prefecture, Japan.[2] Mikitani attended Hitotsubashi University, graduating in 1988. While working for the Industrial Bank of Japan, Mikitani was transferred to the US in 1993. He studied at Harvard Business School, earning the 9-Week certificate in Advanced Leadership in 2011.[3]

His father was an economist, Ryoichi Mikitani (Kobe University Professor Emeritus, Yale University Professor). His mother, Setsuko spent her elementary school age in New York. After her graduation from Kobe University, she worked for a major trading company. His sister, Ikuko is a physician (MD in Osaka University). His brother, Kenichi is a University of Tokyo professor in Biology.

Early Career[edit]

Mikitani worked at the Industrial Bank of Japan (now part of Mizuho Corporate Bank) from 1988 to 1996.[4] In 1997, he left to start his own consulting group called Crimson Group.


On February 7, 1997 Mikitani founded Rakuten with a few young co-founders and just 250,000 of their own money.[5] He was president from its founding, and in 2001 he also became chairman. In addition, he is also head of the E-Commerce and Banking Business Units and Head of the Development Unit. Among his other titles are also Chairman of Rakuten Travel, Inc., Chairman of Crimson Football Club, Inc., Director (President of Board of Directors) of PRICEMINISTER S.A.S., Director (Chairman) of Kobo Inc.[6]

Focus on English in Business[edit]

From March 2010, Mikitani has implemented a plan that he calls "Englishization", gradually making English the language of Rakuten, despite the fact the company is based in Japan with mainly Japanese staff. While the plan was dismissed as "stupid" by Honda president Takanobu Ito in 2010, Mikitani believes that: "English is not an advantage anymore -- it is a requirement."[7] In 2011, Mikitani's Englishization initiative was featured in a Harvard Business Review case study.[8]

Quitting Keidanren[edit]

Mikitani had joined Keidanren, the powerful Japanese business federation, in 2004. In June 2011, in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, he quit the federation,[9] announcing it via Twitter before sending in his formal letter of resignation, saying it was no longer the same organization he had joined,[10] and he disagreed with its support for continued reliance on the nuclear industry for electricity.[11] He subsequently pondered setting up a rival body.[12][13]

On June 1, 2012 the Japanese Association of New Economy (JANE) was launched in Tokyo. It was a renaming of the "Japan e-business association", which had been established in February 2010[14] to open it to non-online businesses.[15] Mikitani currently serves as the Representative Director of JANE.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Mikitani is married with two children.[17][18]

In March 2015, Mikitani was valued at $8.7 billion by Forbes' World's Billionaires list, ranking at number 151.[19]


In 2012, Mikitani was awarded the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award, one of the school's highest honors. He was also named to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Industrial Competitiveness Council.[20]

Mikitani is also a recipient of the Legion of Honour, an award bestowed by the French government.


  1. ^ http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/4/#version:static
  2. ^ LinkedIn Hiroshi Mikitani profile retrieved on July 11, 2012
  3. ^ Rakuten Inc website Management Team Retrieved on July 11, 2012
  4. ^ Rakuten Inc website Management Team Retrieved on July 11, 2012
  5. ^ http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2012/09/06/mission-impossible-how-rakuten-billionaire-hiroshi-mikitani-plans-to-beat-amazon/
  6. ^ Rakuten Inc website Management Team Retrieved on November 11, 2014
  7. ^ Nikkei Rakuten CEO Mikitani: 'Englishnization' A Must June 29 2012 Retrieved on July 11, 2012
  8. ^ Harvard Business Review http://hbr.org/product/language-and-globalization-englishnization-at-raku/an/412002-PDF-ENG Retrieved on November 11, 2014
  9. ^ The Financial Times Lunch with the FT: Hiroshi Mikitani Retrieved on July 11, 2012
  10. ^ Economist New Japan v old Japan Stepping out Jun 23rd 2011 Retrieved on July 10, 2012
  11. ^ Bloomberg Businessweek Pinterest Stake Fuels Rakuten's Quest to Be a Global Player Retrieved on July 11, 2012
  12. ^ Reuters website Rakuten CEO mulls taking on powerful Keidanren lobby Retrieved on July 11, 2012
  13. ^ Economist New Japan v old Japan Stepping out Retrieved on July 11, 2012
  14. ^ White Paper on e-Business in Japan Retrieved on July 20, 2012
  15. ^ Kyodo News Internet-based businesses form new association Retrieved on July 20, 2012
  16. ^ JANE website http://jane.or.jp/english/about/Retrieved on November 11, 2014
  17. ^ Forbes magazine The 400 Richest Japanese - #6 Hiroshi Mikitani Retrieved on July 11, 2012
  18. ^ Global Business Leaders Hiroshi Mikitani of Japan Retrieved on July 11, 2012
  19. ^ http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/4/#version:static
  20. ^ TIME http://time.com/2864228/grand-bazaar/ Retrieved on November 11, 2014