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Yoji Takahashi, head of the Unimat group, which operates major office coffee vendor Unimat Offisco Corp., was Japan’s top individual taxpayer last year, according to a report listing the nation’s top 100 taxpayers in 2001, released Thursday by the National Tax Agency.

Takahashi, a regular on the list, paid about 6.84 billion yen in income tax in 2001 after selling shares in consumer credit firm Unimat Life Corp. to a foreign firm. Takahashi ranked 13th the previous year.

In 2000, the largest group of top taxpayers, 49 of the 100, earned their income mainly through stock transactions, but that figure dropped to 27 in the latest list, the report said.

Seven people, down from 10 in 2000, recorded sizable profits from stock option schemes, which allow employees to exercise an option to buy their company’s shares at a pre-determined price.

Twelve executives from entertainment-related businesses, including operators of Japanese pachinko parlors, were among the top 100 taxpayers. Such businesses tend to do well in economic downturns.

Also, while no one among the 100 paid less than 300 million yen in dues in 2000, 12 people did so last year.

Japanese pop queens Ayumi Hamasaki and Hikaru Utada ranked 39th and 76th, respectively, with 2001 seeing Hamasaki paying 426 million yen and Utada 318 million yen.

Den Fujita, chairman of McDonald’s Co. (Japan) Ltd., which debuted on the Jasdaq market last July, ranked fifth, and two other members of the Fujita family ranked third and fourth. Fujita paid about 2.16 billion yen, and the two others paid about 3.38 billion yen and 3.28 billion yen, respectively. They paid the taxes after selling shares in the hamburger chain.

Meanwhile, Tadashi Yanai, president of Fast Retailing Co., the operator of the Uniqlo clothing store chain, who made his debut on last year’s list at 31st, rose to 18th this time, coughing up 610 million yen. Uniqlo’s fortunes have since fallen, and in November Yanai will be replaced as president by Genichi Tamatsuka, currently a managing director, and become chairman.

The top 100 included eight executives of consumer money lenders such as Takefuji Corp. and Promise Co.

On Thursday, 524 tax offices across the country made public the names of those taxpayers who filed final tax returns and paid more than 10 million yen in income tax for 2001.

According to the tax agency, about 7.7 million people filed final tax returns with tax authorities in 2001.

Of these, about 79,838 people had their income disclosed by the tax agency as a result of paying more than 10 million yen in income tax, down by 140 from a year earlier.

The number of people who paid more than 100 million yen in income tax was also down from the previous year, dropping 61 to 713.

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