Alibaba founder Jack Ma has been living in Tokyo for 6 months

  • Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma now lives in Tokyo, the FT reported.
  • The once high-profile Ma angered Chinese authorities in 2020 and has since disappeared from public view.
  • Ma still keeps a low profile in Tokyo, mostly hanging out at private clubs.

Once one of China’s wealthiest businessmen, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma largely disappeared from public view two years ago after a row with authorities. He has now reappeared in Tokyo, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing people with direct knowledge of his whereabouts.

An outspoken teacher-turned-tech-titan, Ma was once a high-profile jet setter who was the face of China’s big tech. But he has been keeping a low profile since October 2020 after delivering a speech criticizing China’s financial regulatory system.

His words angered Chinese authorities, prompting intense regulatory scrutiny of his businesses and a broader crackdown on tech companies in the country.

Ma’s whereabouts have been the subject of intense speculation since he disappeared from the limelight.

One of the billionaire’s most recent sightings was in July this year when he visited Wageningen University & Research in July, the Dutch institution announced on its website.

Although he has lived in Tokyo for almost half a year, Ma keeps a low profile in the city and mainly hangs out at several private members’ clubs, according to FT. According to the media outlet, he also spends his time in Japan visiting rural hot springs and ski resorts with his family.

While living in Tokyo, Ma made regular trips to the US and technology hub Israel, according to FT.

Like China, Japan had some of the toughest border controls in the world during the pandemic, but visa-free travel resumed last month. In contrast, Covid lockdowns are still in place in China, prompting rare protests against authorities over the past weekend.

The spotlight on Ma’s activities has coincided with Beijing’s quest for “shared prosperity” – a concept that the rich must share their wealth with the poor in order to create a more equal society. The increased momentum from 2020 has hit both big tech companies and real estate companies, which have been forced to deleverage as authorities try to control high house prices.

This weighed on Chinese tech and real estate companies and caused the net worth of the country’s richest to collapse. Ma, which was worth about $61 billion at its peak in October 2020, is now worth about $30.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Ma resigned as chairman of Alibaba in 2019. He still sits on the board of directors of the Jack Ma Foundation, which he founded.

The foundation did not immediately respond to an insider request for comment.

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