How Alibaba’s founder became a low-key expat in Japan

Excursion or defection? At the end of November was Financial Times revealed that Jack Ma, the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has been living in Tokyo for six months with his wife. The British diary describes a man who leads a lavish but very discreet lifestyle between business clubs and provincial resorts. According to our information, Jack Ma lives just behind the Roppongi Hills shopping complex in the Hiro-o district, a five-minute walk from the Chinese Embassy. A neighbor describes him surrounded by five bodyguards as soon as he leaves his home. In particular, he visited the general manager of Laox, an electronic equipment distribution chain bought by a Chinese foundation.

This resort is not surprising in itself. In addition to the endless historical-diplomatic disputes (about Japanese colonization, about the sovereignty of certain islands and their space) between the two neighbors, Japan retains a formidable attraction over the Chinese upper class, also visible as tourists (in 2019, the last year before the Covid- 19, they had represented a third of arrivals and expenses) than discreet as investors, from the Shanghai household buying a pied-à-terre in Tokyo to the fund participating in a huge real estate project in a Hokkaido ski area. According to figures from the Ministry of Finance, China accounts for about 15% of Japan’s total foreign investment holdings. It is the second largest investor in the archipelago after the United States.

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