CEO rakuten hiroshi mikitani

Chairman and Chief Executive of e-commerce operator Rakuten Inc., Hiroshi Mikitani speaks during a news conference in Tokyo. Pic: Reuters

Japan’s Rakuten CEO tweets Trump move to ban refugees makes him cry

IN rare candor for a Japanese executive, CEO Hiroshi Mikitani of e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to ban entry of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries, saying it made him weep with sadness.

Mikitani said Rakuten, which is sometimes called “Japan’s Amazon”, would offer free international calls from the United States to the seven affected countries through its call and messaging app Viber.

“I am very sad to see what is happening now in the U.S. I came to U.S. when I was seven and I really respect big American big heart,” said Mikitani, who earned an MBA from Harvard in 1993, on Twitter on Monday.

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“But it is wrong as a human being to uniformly discriminate based on religion and nationality. We will make sure we will support our Muslim staff members as a company and personally as well.”

Viber Media Inc., which Rakuten acquired for US$900 million in 2014, had 823 million registered users as of September 2016. Calls between Viber users are free, but calls to non-users or landline numbers are usually charged.

Trump said his directive was “not about religion” but keeping America safe from the threat of Islamist militants.

Mikitani learned to speak English at the age of 7, when his family lived in the United States while his father taught economics at Yale University, the Harvard Business School website said.

“My dad is crying in the heaven. He went to Harvard, Stanford and Yale,” he tweeted. “He was so proud and I am too. Now I am really crying.” – Reuters