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 52)
Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Alma mater Hitotsubashi University
Harvard University
Occupation Founder, CEO and Chairman of Rakuten
Years active 1988–present
Net worth $6.1 billion (March 2017)[1]
Spouse(s) Married
Children Two

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 billionaire businessman and the 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 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.[3] 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 yen of their own money.[4] 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.[3]

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."[5] In 2011, Mikitani's Englishization initiative was featured in a Harvard Business Review case study.[6]

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,[7] announcing it via Twitter before sending in his formal letter of resignation, saying it was no longer the same organization he had joined,[8] and he disagreed with its support for continued reliance on the nuclear industry for electricity.[9] He subsequently pondered setting up a rival body.[10][8]

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[11] to open it to non-online businesses.[12] Mikitani currently serves as the Representative Director of JANE.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Mikitani is married with two children.[1]

In March 2015, Mikitani's net worth was $8.7 billion according to Forbes' World's Billionaires list.[1]


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.[14]

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


  1. ^ a b c "Hiroshi Mikitani". Forbes. Retrieved 17 March 2017. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b c "Management Team | Rakuten, Inc". Global.rakuten.com. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  4. ^ "Mission Impossible: How Rakuten Billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani Plans To 'Beat Amazon'". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  5. ^ [2][dead link]
  6. ^ [3][dead link]
  7. ^ David Pilling (2012-06-15). "Hiroshi Mikitani". Ft.com. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  8. ^ a b "New Japan v old Japan: Stepping out". The Economist. 2011-06-23. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  9. ^ Bruce Einhorn (2012-05-18). "Pinterest Stake Fuels Rakuten's Quest to Be a Global Player - Bloomberg". Businessweek.com. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  10. ^ Slodkowski, Antoni (2011-07-08). "Rakuten CEO mulls taking on powerful Keidanren lobby". Reuters. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  11. ^ "White Parper on e-Business in Japan - Japan Association of New Economy". Jane.or.jp. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  12. ^ [4][dead link]
  13. ^ "About the association - Japan Association of New Economy". Jane.or.jp. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  14. ^ "Grand Bazaar". Time.com. Retrieved 2017-03-17.