Takafumi Horie, 40, the recently paroled founder of Internet firm Livedoor Co., said Wednesday he wants embattled Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto to become prime minister one day, citing his “ability to challenge” and “alter the status quo” of politics.
Arrested in 2006 and later sentenced to a 30-month prison term for falsifying his firm’s financial reports, Horie was paroled in March and appeared before the foreign media at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo on Wednesday, his outspokenness unabated.
The once iconic entrepreneur reiterated the importance of minimizing the role of government, going so far as to suggest that Japan is better off if it “just does nothing.”
“I think the whole concept of the nation-state is on the verge of collapse. And we need to eliminate as much government interference as possible,” he said.
Horie, who once declared his plan to enter politics, said he no longer harbors the desire to become prime minister, recommending instead Hashimoto, who is also co-leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party).
“My philosophy of life is very simple: ‘Do whatever only I can do.’ In other words, if there is somebody who can do my job, I’d be happy to let that person take over. And now this somebody has finally appeared. It’s Hashimoto,” Horie said, commenting on the mayor’s temerity — the latest example of which was his pronouncement that Japan’s wartime “comfort women” system of sexual slavery was necessary to “maintain military discipline.”
Although he stopped short of saying if he agrees with the mayor, Horie nonetheless stressed that Hashimoto’s devil-may-care heedlessness of consequences clearly signals he has no intention of remaining a “career politician.”
“I believe Hashimoto is ready to quit politics anytime. But unless people with such a mindset and determination to change politics keep emerging, there is no way we can reduce the role of the government.”
Reflecting on changes during his two years behind bars, Horie said Internet technologies have dramatically improved. Often viewed with amazement as a charismatic entrepreneur, Horie, who has almost a million Twitter followers, criticized Japanese business managers for being “lazy” and left behind globally.
“I’m gravely concerned Japan is being drained of talented human resources, with Japanese business managers so slow to catch up with global trends. And as a result, those who are remaining within the system of Japan are those less talented.”
To improve the situation, Horie suggested Japan cut corporate taxes, and then implement policies that encourage talented people to immigrate to Japan.
Horie recently announced he is involved in developing a smartphone application that enables users to follow the online conversations of celebrities and other high-profile figures as they unfold.
His new firm, 7gogo, is shared equally between blog service giant Cyber Agent and SNS Inc., which Horie started in 2005 to develop a small liquid-fuel rocket.