Japanese tycoon going on SpaceX rocket says he trusts Musk

The Japanese online retail tycoon who plans to travel to the moon on the SpaceX rocket says he respects and trusts Elon Musk as a fellow entrepreneur, despite his recent troubles.

"Twitter can get you into trouble," Yusaku Maezawa, chief executive of Zozo Inc., said on Tuesday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo. "And that can be said of Elon Musk, too."

Musk's tweet in August that declared he had secured financing for a Tesla buyout got him in trouble with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Under a settlement, Tesla and Musk each must pay a $20m penalty. Musk also stepped down as Tesla's chairman.

Maezawa, 42, who is also quite active on social media, is set to be a passenger on Musk's Space X, the first-ever private commercial space trip, scheduled for blastoff in 2023, to orbit the moon, in what Maezawa has dubbed his "#dearMoon Project".

Maezawa said he got a good feel for Musk's character by visiting Tesla, and seeing the relationship Musk had developed with his employees.

"They believe in Elon Musk," he said. "That kind of company is marvelous. I felt that as another entrepreneur."

Although Maezawa said nothing was decided yet on who was going with him on the space travel, he said he wanted to take visual artists, fashion designers and musicians from a variety of backgrounds, including the actress he was dating, Ayame Goriki, "if she proves to be a good match for the mission".

Maezawa said his company has a twitter policy, and experts go over his tweets in advance. Sometimes he gets emotional on social media, but he is careful not to say anything that might hurt his company, he said.

Recently, he took to his twitter and Instagram accounts to lash out at online hecklers, who had ridiculed his halting rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" on an expensive Stradivarius violin he had just purchased.

Maezawa is known for lavish purchases, including artworks by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. But he is equally known for sharing them with the public.

He shrugged off the possible dangers of space, just as he brushed off the risks of tweets and associations with Musk.

"There is no end if you start thinking about that," he said of the risks.

Maezawa said he has not yet started training for the mission, but he has been getting regular medical checkups and is brushing up on his English.

In a nation where people tend to be focused on blending in and getting along, Maezawa has stood out. Forbes magazine estimates his wealth at $2.9bn.

Maezawa ran an import CD business and played in a rock band before he embarked on his online fashion business with his shopping site Zozotown.

Recently, he has begun making clothes, such as a wearable technology called Zozosuit. The suit, splattered with hundreds of dots, takes body measurements with a software application, ensuring a good fit.

Maezawa said nicely fitting clothes bring smiles and the moon trip's purpose also is to add to happiness.

The world remembers the first words of the 1969 Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," he said.

Maezawa has a message of his own that he says will be more casual, akin to the lyrics he loved playing in rock bands growing up.

All I want to say is this: Wouldn't the world be a better place if there is peace?" said Maezawa.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When planning for the Black Friday sales do you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Save, research and plan ahead, preparing to make the most of it?
8% - 957 votes
Wait and see what looks like a good deal on the day?
14% - 1806 votes
Have no interest in spending more money this year?
78% - 9945 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.10
(+0.01)
ZAR/GBP
20.23
(-0.03)
ZAR/EUR
18.02
(-0.06)
ZAR/AUD
11.12
(+0.06)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(-0.08)
Gold
1810.57
(+0.14)
Silver
23.42
(+0.37)
Platinum
968.49
(+0.96)
Brent Crude
48.73
(+1.57)
Palladium
2377.99
(+2.43)
All Share
57742.19
(-0.03)
Top 40
52940.79
(-0.20)
Financial 15
11641.10
(-0.29)
Industrial 25
79835.50
(-0.36)
Resource 10
52605.42
(+0.07)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo