National / Crime & Legal

Japan's flamboyant 'Prince of Green Juice' arrested for alleged tax evasion

Kyodo

A flamboyant entrepreneur known as the “Prince of Green Juice” was arrested for alleged tax evasion on Tuesday.

Tokyo prosecutors raided beauty and diet product company Media Hearts Co., which President Yuta Misaki set up in 2007, over the evasion of about ¥180 million in taxes in the year to September 2015 and in the year to September 2017. Two other individuals were also arrested for allegedly helping him.

The 29-year-old Misaki earned his moniker by changing public perceptions of aojiru (green-leafed vegetable juice), which he began marketing in 2014, from a bitter-tasting health regimen for the elderly into a trendy drink for young women.

Misaki has frequently appeared on TV and internet programs as the so-called Prince of Green Juice. He also has a strong social media presence, which he has used to flaunt his wealth, including posts saying he made ¥100 million monthly, that he bought a villa and that he was late catching a plane because he had bought armfuls of luxury goods in Europe.

He also complained on Twitter last December that Japan was “mean” to the rich, and moved to Malta that month to avoid paying taxes in Japan.

“Tax authorities force brilliant high earners to leave for overseas by throttling them and bullying them,” he told Kyodo News.

“I did not evade paying taxes,” Misaki said in response to the allegation.

Prosecutors allege that Misaki dodged about ¥40 million in consumption tax and around ¥140 million in corporate tax by padding the company’s advertising expenses.

Go Kato, 34, a company executive, and Yumiko Naito, 49, an outsourcing services operator, were arrested on suspicion they were accomplices.

Media Hearts, which sells beauty and diet products for young women, had ¥12.1 billion in sales for the year through September 2017, compared with sales of ¥1.8 billion the year before.