World's richest man dies

HE TOOK a lunchbox to work, followed sumo wrestling, preferred a kimono to a suit and insisted that he was 'just a landlord like my father', but when he died yesterday, at the age of 88, Taikichiro Mori was rated the richest man in the world.

The family firm, Mori Building Co, owns 83 buildings, most of them office blocks standing on some of the most expensive land in central Tokyo. He enjoyed the nickname 'Tokyo's Landlord'.

When he was swept to the top of Forbes magazine's wealth rankings by the strong yen of the late 1980s he reacted with embarrassment and scepticism, insisting he wasn't really worth dollars 13bn. 'I owe the position to the bubble economy. When the bubble bursts, we will know the true value of assets,' he said.

Mori's public modesty and the simplicity of his private life - he neither drank nor smoked and lived in a home that was extremely small by billionaire standards - belied the sophistication of his business abilities. He was one of the few academic economists to make a fortune.

The son of a rice trader, who managed property on the side, he took a university degree in 1928 and went on to become head of the School of Commerce at Yokohama City University, specialising in trade theory.

He was 55 before he gave up university life to practise full- time what he had preached. Circumstances favoured him: Tokyo, levelled in the war, had begun its extraordinary industrial growth and desperately needed offices. The family firm was already booming. Mori steadily acquired sites and raised buildings, naming each after himself: Mori No 1, Mori No 2, Mori No 3 and so on. Only after Mori No 45, when city centre geography was becoming impossibly confusing, did he go over to names.

Mori was renowned for his long-term thinking. He would wait many years to clear a single site, buying up each property as it became available. His biggest project of the 1980s, Ark Hills, was built on land he began acquiring almost 20 years earlier.

Like many of Japan's post-war business barons, he viewed his work as part of a cause: the reconstruction and remotivation of the country. He liked to portray 'development' in the most positive sense, clearing slums and replacing them with modern, clean, efficient buildings. He was criticised, however, for demolishing the traditional Tokyo of narrow streets and one-man businesses.

Taikichiro Mori died of heart failure at a Tokyo hospital. He is survived by his wife Hana - theirs was an arranged marriage in 1932 - two sons, Minoru and Akira, both in the family firm, and a daughter, Aiko.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas