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?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Project Manager - Vehicle Design and Build

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Engineering Project Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer and i...

Recruitment Genius: Document Controller

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Document Controller is required to join a le...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action