Japanese tycoon Maezawa returns from space with business dreams


Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa greets during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo on Friday, January 7, 2022. Maezawa has returned from space with hopes of new heavenly investments. (AP Photo / Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (AP) – “Space now” was what Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa had wanted to tweet for years. He finally really did, from the International Space Station.

“The space market has so much potential,” he told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo on Friday, his first press conference in Japan after returning to Earth before Christmas.

Maezawa, who runs a company called Start Today, is preparing to invest in various companies that could grow from ongoing research by NASA, the Japanese equivalent called JAXA, and others. But first he wants to recover from his recent celestial adventure: coming back to life with gravity turned out to be heavier than expected, he said.

Maezawa, 46, took off in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian cosmonaut on December 8, becoming the first paid tourist to visit the station since 2009.

He returned to earth after spending 12 days at the Orbiting Outpost, where he took videos of himself clowning in zero gravity, shaping water droplets into bubbles and hitting a drifting golf ball. towards a flag in the spaceship.

The clips, directed by astronaut Yozo Hirano, who accompanied Maezawa, were posted on YouTube, attracting millions of views.

He tweeted “uchyu nau” or “space now,” in the style the Japanese often use on popular social media to relay what they’re doing, like “party now” or “dinner now”.

“Here’s what I really wanted to say. My first tweet from space, ”the following post said, one with a photo of him wearing a T-shirt and shorts, floating cross-legged in a pose of meditation.

He said he would like to tweet “moon now” next. He has reserved an orbit around the moon aboard Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s spacecraft, scheduled for the next few years, possibly as early as next year.

“I’m not sure exactly when I should be tweeting this,” he said, as he wouldn’t land on the moon. “Maybe when we get to the back of the moon.”

Maezawa has over 11 million Twitter followers and has grown into a flamboyant celebrity known for his free management style, rare in the conformist and staid business world of Japan.

He ran a CD import business and performed in a rock band before launching an online fashion business in 1998. Famous for his encounters with movie stars, Maezawa has been both admired and ridiculed for. his lavish purchases, including a Stradivarius violin and works of art by Jean-Michel Basquiat. and Andy Warhol.

In 2019, Maezawa resigned as CEO of e-commerce company Zozo Inc. to focus on space travel, selling his business to Yahoo Japan. Forbes magazine estimates his fortune at $ 1.9 billion.

The amount Maezawa paid for his trip has been the subject of much speculation and skepticism. Reports put the price at over $ 80 million. Maezawa again refused to disclose the cost.

But he said living in space made him appreciate the everyday more – the wind, the changing seasons, the smells and the sushi.

Maezawa hopes that one day world leaders can take the same trip. Planet Earth is “100 times more beautiful” than any photo he has ever seen, he said, so maybe they would also understand the importance of working together.

“This is my dream,” he said.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama


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