Following Beijing’s crackdown on the technology industry, Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma has been residing in Tokyo for almost six months, according to a Tuesday Financial Times report.
The co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has made frequent journeys to the US and Israel in addition to treks to the countryside during his time in Japan, according to the daily, which relied on sources familiar with his whereabouts. Masayoshi Son, the creator of the Tokyo-based SoftBank Group Corp. and an early backer of Alibaba, considers Ma to be a close friend.
Ma, once China’s richest and most well-known tech leader, withdrew from the public eye in recent years after getting into issue with Beijing over his criticism of government regulation, which halted the initial public offering of fintech behemoth Ant Group Co. After that, China’s private sector came under intense scrutiny, with a focus on limiting the influence of internet companies. Since then, his infrequent public appearances have drawn a lot of attention.
Ma has restricted himself to a small number of exclusive clubs in Tokyo’s Ginza and Marunouchi neighbourhoods, according to the Financial Times. The newspaper added that he has hired a personal chef, security personnel, and has taken a passionate interest in collecting modern art.
In the early stages of the pandemic, Ma, who had previously been a well-known fixture at business conferences, oversaw massive international donations of protective gear and other supplies.