Entrepreneur who built automation giant is now Japan’s richest person


Takemitsu Takizaki generally keeps a low profile. His company Keyence was recently chosen to be included in the blue-chip Japanese stock index. Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

  • Takemitsu Takizaki, the founder of sensor maker Keyence, is now Japan’s richest man.

  • Keyence, which Takizaki founded in 1974, was recently chosen to enter the blue-chip Japanese stock index.

  • Its employees are among the highest paid in Japan, earning an average of $ 170,000 per year.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

The richest man in Japan is now Takemitsu Takizaki, the founder of automation sensor maker Keyence, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.

His fortune has reached $ 38.2 billion, surpassing that of Uniqlo tycoon Tadashi Yanai, who has lost $ 9.7 billion this year so far and is now worth $ 35.5 billion, according to the index. .

As Yanai’s fashion empire took a hit during the pandemic, Takizaki Keyence’s manufacturing business has seen its shares skyrocket 93.6% since the start of 2020.

Takizaki, 76, keeps a low profile. He started his Osaka-based company in 1974 and never attended college, according to Bloomberg.

One of his successes was helping invent precision sensors for the assembly lines that produced cars for Toyota and chips for Toshiba. Sensors are a staple product for Keyence, which also manufactures barcode scanners and microscopes.

“He’s a very rare type in Japan,” Mitsushige Akino, senior executive of Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo, told Bloomberg in 2015. “He evaluated the profit margin over sales and grew the business steadily.”

Takizaki’s Keyence is so successful in part because he outsources production – sending raw materials to component suppliers, then taking those components and sending them to assemblers before performing final inspections, according to the Financial Times. By dividing the production chain, the company reduces the risk that its suppliers will learn from its operations and end up becoming its competitors.

Keyence, which has offices in 46 countries, also has a reputation for paying its employees well, with monthly bonuses based on their profits. Its employees earn some of the highest salaries in Japan, averaging $ 170,000 a year, according to the Times.

It’s a salary model that an expert called “one of the best examples of meritocracy in Japan,” according to the Times.

When Takizaki retired as chairman of the company in 2015, his fortune stood at $ 7.2 billion and he was the fourth richest man in Japan, according to Bloomberg. But over the next six years, his wealth would increase more than five-fold.

This growth has been fueled in part by a boom in demand for factory automation in Japan, as the pandemic forces companies to look for ways to maintain production without in-person contact.

To top it off, Keyence was also one of three companies recently chosen to enter the Nikkei 225, Japan’s premier stock index, alongside video game maker Nintendo and electronics maker Murata.

As a result, Takizaki, who is now Honorary Chairman of Keyence and owns 21% of Keyence according to Bloomberg, added $ 5.9 billion to his fortune this year.

Keyence did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment for comment on this story.

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