Tadashi Yanai

A Japanese billionaire businessman and founder and president of Fast Retailing


Tadashi Yanai is a Japanese billionaire businessman, the founder and president of Fast Retailing, of which Uniqlo (“unique clothing”) is a subsidiary. He was born in 7 February 1949

In June 2019 he was ranked as the 31st richest person in the world by Forbes, and the richest man in Japan, with an estimated net worth of US$29.4 billion.


Tadashi Yanai was born in Ube, Yamaguchi in February 1949. He attended Ube High School and later Waseda University, graduating in 1971 with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science. His uncle was an activist for elimination of the settlement of discriminated lower-class people, called Burakumin (minority group of Japanese society).

Tadashi Yanai

Image source: wsj.com

In 1971, Yanai started in business by selling kitchenware and men’s clothing at a JUSCO supermarket. After a year at JUSCO, he quit and joined his father’s roadside tailor shop. Yanai opened his first Uniqlo store in Hiroshima in 1984, and changed the name of his father’s company Ogori Shoji to Fast Retailing in 1991. He has stated: “I might look successful but I’ve made many mistakes. People take their failures too seriously. You have to be positive and believe you will find success next time.”

Awards and Recognition

Tadashi Yanai

Image source: esquire.com

  • Yanai won the International Retailer of Year award for 2010 from the National Retail Federation in the US. He was the fourth Japanese national to win it, and the first since 1998, when it was won by Masatoshi Ito, owner and honorary chairman of the Ito-Yokado retailing group. He was also chosen as best company president in a survey of Japanese corporate executives by Sanno Institute of Management in 2008 and 2009.
  • In 2012 he was included in the 50 Most Influential list of Bloomberg Markets Magazine.
  • In 2018, he was listed as one of the 500 most influential people in the fashion industry by The Business of Fashion