Former Livedoor Co. President Takafumi Horie rapidly became one of Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs after dropping out of the prestigious University of Tokyo, and, within a decade, fell from grace — something many current students see as an example of how not to behave.

Horie and three other Livedoor group executives were arrested last week for allegedly releasing false information on the takeover of a publisher and manipulating the group’s financial results in 2004.

At a seminar at Tokyo University’s department of arts and sciences, where Horie studied, students had been given an in-class essay test titled “Horiemon (Horie’s nickname) and I” during the time when the Livedoor president was aggressively seeking to boost his business.

In a recent interview, a female student who attended the seminar expressed mixed feelings.

“Horiemon is still popular with many seminar members,” she said.

A 22-year-old man majoring in economics said: “I don’t want to devote my 20s to earning hundreds of millions of yen. Instead of a stormy life, I’d rather lead a sober, diligent one.”

Megumi Masuda, 21, a student in the literature department, said she was deeply impressed by Horie’s book “One Who Earns Wins.”

“I highly value the fact that he made it the top by using his brain. He shook things up, going against the old grain of Japanese society,” Masuda said. But she also added: “Money is nothing more than a means of living. I want to have a job that is good for society.”

Yoshie Fukuda, 19, also in the literature department, discounted the Horie cachet.

“I would like to have a substantive job,” she said.

Some students, though, see the Internet tycoon as a victim of people looking to make a quick profit at his expense.

“Horie may have crossed a risky bridge to boost his company. He may have been (exploited) by the people around him,” said Keiichi Onoda, 26, an engineering major.

A 21-year-old woman, also studying engineering, said: “The Horie drama reminded me of the harsh reality of life. The media lionized him — and then abruptly turned on him.”

A 25-year-old man in the science department who bought Livedoor stock at 700 yen per share last year suffered a big loss when the price tumbled when the scandal broke.

“I was badly bruised,” he said. “I don’t want to say how much I lost.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.