Takafumi Horie's comeback
Up, up and away
The controversial entrepreneur remains popular, brash and ambitious
IN 2005 Takafumi Horie, then president of Livedoor, an internet firm, joined the X PRIZE Foundation,
a charity which gives cash for innovative projects such as space tourism.
Joining forces with the likes of Larry Page and Elon Musk, co-founders of Google and PayPal respectively, was a typically bold move by the self-styled boy billionaire from Fukuoka.
Instead of going into orbit, however, Mr Horie went behind bars.
He was arrested in Japan's biggest financial scandal of the decade.
Now, however, he is out on parole, and says he will soon launch a low-cost space-tourism business using a Russian capsule.
He has completed several test launches.
A large Japanese firm is on the verge of sponsoring a flight next year, he says.
Other investors, he claims, are standing by.
This time the money will come not from inflating the earnings and shares of Livedoor, for which Mr Horie was sent down,
but from a dedicated following of 20- and 30-somethings who pay to hear his thoughts via a monthly digital magazine.
He has almost a million followers on Twitter. Social media and crowdfunding platforms, he says, make it far easier now to launch new businesses.
Not even 21 months in a Japanese prison,
including solitary confinement, freezing temperatures and forced labour, were able to stop him entertaining an audience.
From his cell he published two well-received books with gritty manga strips describing his new life:
cleaning pubic hair out of toilets, being farted at by the senior prisoners he had to tend to, and having to surrender porn magazines to prison guards.
He also dreamed up dozens of new-business ideas.
Among the 30 or so earthbound plans are a new reality show where fans will pay to put their idols on television,
a celebrity-chat smartphone application and a scheme to undercut the price of livestreaming video to phones. Nothing too radical, then:
Japan, after all, is already awash with social-media and smartphone start-ups.
As for his reception back into business life,
Mr Horie jokes that everyone has welcomed me, except for the chairman of Fuji TV.
Many people reckon the entrepreneur was punished harshly mainly because he tried to win control of the big broadcaster, and because he flaunted his wealth.
The authorities usually treat accounting fraud more leniently. In July a group of executives at Olympus, a camera-maker, received suspended prison sentences for a far larger scheme.
Mr Horie, now 40, says he is trying to forget what happened.
It will be hard for his generation to do likewise.
William Saito, a serial entrepreneur who travels the country encouraging graduates to start new businesses, says he has spent the past five years trying to undo the dispiriting effect of Mr Horie's fall and punishment on young people.
A successful new venture would help greatly.
1.such as 比如；诸如
1Heroes such as Huang Jiguang will always live in the hearts of the people.
But for the past 10 years, countries such as China have been exporting capital to the US and Britain so that we can live beyond our means.
2.behind bars 在监狱服刑
It would not be her last scam, or her last day behind bars.
For this act of insolence, he was sent to the stands, symbolically imprisoned behind bars, as he scribbled notes to his bench.
3.stand by 支持；袖手旁观；准备
There were two witnesses who happened to be standing by when the accident happened.
A man doesn't stand by and watch another insult him.