Despite being an island nation with less than 378,000 square kilometers, Japan contains an astounding nine percent of the world’s wealthy. Japan has nearly 127 million residents generating a GDP of over five trillion dollars.

According to RBC Wealth Management, Japan is ranked second in the world after the United States in the number of high net worth (HNW) individuals. Credit Suisse’s 2016 Wealth Report states Japan has 2.8 million millionaires.

Among these are more than 1,900 centimillionaires—those having more than $100 million in net assets. Japan has roughly 2,500 ultra-high net worth UHNW individuals with more than $50 million in investible assets. (This number is significantly higher if the $30 million threshold is used to define UHNW). The number of Japan’s billionaires fluctuates from year to year. Forbes Magazine reported in 2016:

“The five [billionaire] newcomers include the Kobayashi brothers, whose Kose cosmetics firm is on a roll, and two other retailers: drugstore entrepreneur Masateru Uno and Uasuaki Yamanishi of clothing and food seller Izumi.  Also new: Akimitsu Sano, founder of online recipe site Cookpad and home builder Kazumi Lida and her son Kazuki Lida.  The soaring stock price of cosmetics firm Pola Orbis lifted CEO Satoshi Suzuki into the billionaire ranks in mid-March for the first time.”

In research conducted by WealthInsight with summary published by BusinessWire, the number of Japanese UHNW individuals will increase nearly nine percent by 2019. The report stated Japan in the next two years will have 18,427 UHNW, including 34 billionaires, 2,141 centimillionaires, and 16,251 multimillionaires.

Why suborbital spaceflight will appeal to Japan’s wealthy

As a rule, Japan’s HNW and UHNW men and women do not spend lavishly and openly on material items. This is in marked contrast to Americans, Europeans and South Americans. The Japan Times reported, “…the Japanese rich will spend money on things they like and tend to favor the intangible. They’re more likely to patronize the arts and go to concerts than splurge on sports cars or expensive jewelry. They travel often and take cruises. [emphasis added]

Suborbital spaceflight will align perfectly with the Japanese wealthy’s mindset of experiential travel and memories it would generate. They would enjoy the pre-flight training and education, anticipate the day of launch, experience the visceral sensations of launch to suborbit, and then marvel at the beauty of the Earth below them from the altitude of 100 km. They could carry the memory and experience of their suborbital spaceflight without an outward display. However, they would proudly show off their astronaut’s wings when and where appropriate.

The Japanese modules on the ISS prove the country’s technological capability in spaceflight.

Japan is one of the few nations on the Earth that has orbital launch capability. Japan launched its first commercial satellite in 2012 from its launch complex on Tanegashima Island. The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) was involved in the design and manufacture of the Kibo module. The main module and several smaller segments were launched aboard the space shuttle and installed on the International Space Station (ISS). Japan trained several crewmembers for missions aboard the ISS.

However, for wealthy Japanese to experience suborbital spaceflight, they must travel to the United States. They will choose from either Virgin Galactic, launching from Spaceport America in New Mexico or Blue Origin launching from west Texas. After their spaceflight, they will return to Japan and relate their experiences among their friends. This will have a beneficial domino effect, bringing more to America to also experience suborbital spaceflight for themselves.

Anthony Young ©Personal Spaceflight Advisors LLC direct email: anthonyhyoung@gmail.com