Fallen tycoon Horie freed from jail

by Reiji Yoshida and Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writers

Takafumi Horie, former president of the Internet firm Livedoor Co. and an entrepreneurial hero for young generations, was paroled Wednesday after spending 21 months behind bars.

In a news conference Wednesday night, an apologetic Horie, who lost 30 kg while incarcerated, expressed his intention to contribute to society by helping ex-prisoners get back on their feet. He also said he wants to reunite with his space rocket project and launch a website to critique how news is reported.

Horie walked out of a prison in Nagano Prefecture at around 7:40 a.m. He soon appeared live in video streamed by Nico Nico Douga, Japan’s leading online video service operator, while he was in a car headed for Tokyo to hold a news conference.

“I thank everybody who took care of me while in prison. Thank you very much. I received parole after serving 74 percent of my prison term,” Horie said on Twitter.

In his later press conference, he said, “I caused trouble to many people in society and (Livedoor) shareholders over the Livedoor case and am deeply sorry.”

Because he is still on parole, there are restrictions on what Horie can do. But he said his jail term gave him time to think about what he wants to do when he got out.

“I spent a long time in prison. It gave me time to come up with plans. By promoting those plans, I hope to influence society in a positive way,” he said.

Horie, who had been involved with space rocket development before he was imprisoned, said he will continue that business, noting he will go to Hokkaido on Thursday to check out a test-launch site.

Horie said he thought he was no longer interested in running an IT business but he now wants to launch the news critique website, noting the mobile Internet scene has drastically improved in recent years.

Horie also said he hopes to help former prisoners return to society, noting the criminal recidivism rate of former prisoners is quite high.

“If those people cannot get back into society and end up going back to prison, it is such a loss to society,” he said.

Horie also shared what he was doing in prison, saying he was in charge of taking care of disabled prisoners, such as cleaning their clothes, feeding them and helping them take a bath.

After his release, he immediately downloaded the Line app, one of the hottest text message services for young smartphone users.

“Awesome! I will be busy with work and other stuff!” Horie tweeted.

He was arrested in 2006 and eventually sentenced to 2½ years for window-dressing financial reports for Livedoor and one of its group firms. The conviction was finalized in 2011.

While in prison, Horie regularly tweeted and published an email magazine through his agent. He wrote two books, “Keimusho Nau” (“In Prison Now”) and “Keimusho Nau Season 2,” in which he described his life behind bars.

Horie, who made no attempt to hide his greed or his ambition to take over major firms, was once worshiped by young Japanese who aspired to become an investment tycoon like him. He was regarded in both the foreign and domestic media as a symbol of a new Japanese youth willing to challenge the establishment and seniority-based society.

Livedoor’s stock dived when prosecutors suddenly raided the firm, causing great losses to investors. Horie was later arrested.

  • AmIJustAPessimistOrWhat?

    Wow, what a turnaround. Even including the before and after pictures. Lance Armstrong should look to Horie for guidance.

  • http://twitter.com/clark_jimm J

    Go straight back to jail!. Society too soft on white collar crime.