Tadashi Yanai — head of the clothing giant Fast Retailing Co., which runs the popular Uniqlo casual wear brand — may be in the later stages of his career as a business manager, but he has no plans to take it easy.

The 68-year-old, who has shaped a small Yamaguchi-based firm into the world's third-largest apparel retailer over some three decades, still dreams of leading the industry.

With Fast Retailing now focused on global markets, Yanai says, it's like participating in the Olympics after surviving national-level competition.