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[Opinion] Takafumi Horie

Posted April. 19, 2005 23:19,   


A fifth grade elementary school student wrote “saving money” as his hobby. The child can remember a dozen of the names of train stations which passed by, without difficulty, during a trip by train. He handed answer sheets in within about 10 minutes, but always got full scores. This is a child who did not spend much time studying school subjects and enjoyed reading encyclopedias. He delivered newspapers to make money starting in first grade of middle school, and commuted 40km by bicycle to go to school. The school is Gurume middle school, which Son Jeong-eui also attended.

The stories are all about president of Livedoor, Takafumi Horie (32), who has kept the world astir by trying to take over Fuji TV. When he said that he was going to Tokyo University in high and middle school, his homeroom teachers and friends sneered at what he said since he had not studied much at that time. But he succeeded in entering the literary course at Tokyo University after a half-year long intensive effort. He stopped studying again at the University and went on free trips. People gave him rides whenever he showed his student identity card. In the end, he dropped out of the University since he believed that entering Tokyo University was enough, and that it was too time consuming to graduate from it.

He bought Livedoor, an Internet portal site, three years ago amid an indulgence in the PC field. Now, he is the president of an Internet group which earns 30 billion yen a year in sales with 31 companies, including an online stock company. He dose not tie a necktie. His trademark is talking on a mobile phone while running in a T-shirt and a jacket. There is no office for the president in Livedoor. He works on a desk placed near windows with ordinary employees.

He is rough in his speech. He said, “There is nothing that cannot be bought with money,” and “The problem is how to eliminate newspapers and radio and television broadcasts because the media will gather on the Internet at the end.” Mr. Horie conciliated Fuji TV with “a half victory” in the bidding struggle over the rights of the network’s management. He chose strategic cooperation with its enemy Fuji TV because the company tried to defend itself by even putting up Mr. Son. They agreed to pursue the merger of the Internet and broadcasting together.

Opinions on this are two sided. One side is that he is a heretic and the other is that he is a pioneer of information and technology. The elderly frown at him while youth applaud him. The obvious thing is that Mr. Horie is a new type of human in Japan. Some might call him a “Terminator” that has appeared in an aging Japan.

Kim Chung-shik, Editorial writer, skim@donga.com