Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, the head of Japan's Seibu Railway Group, is the world's richest person for the second straight year, Forbes magazine says.
Tsutsumi, 54, has a personal net worth of at least $18.9 billion, Forbes estimated in a report on the richest people outside the United States, which is appearing in its July 25 issue. Forbes estimated his fortune at approximately $20 billion last fall in its first survey of the world's richest people.The designation again puts Forbes at odds with Fortune magazine. In its compilation of the world's billionaires last October, Fortune estimated Tsutsumi's holdings in railroads, hotels and golf clubs were worth a far smaller - but still substantial - $2.5 billion.
The second richest person on Forbes' list is also Japanese. Taikichiro Mori, a former economics professor who owns 68 office buildings in Tokyo, is worth $18 billion, the magazine said. In the previous survey, Mori's fortune was put at $15 billion.
Following the two Japanese are the Reichmann brothers of Canada, who have built a $9 billion fortune in real estate, Forbes said.
Shin Kyuk-ho, a South Korean with interests in candy making, hotels and real estate, is ranked No. 4 ($8 billion-plus), and Kenneth Cole Irving, a Canadian with interests in oil distribution, paper and land, is No. 5 ($8 billion).
The survey identifies 119 non-American individuals or families around the world whose personal net assets are worth more than $1 billion, up from 90 in the previous list.
The United States still accounts for more billionaires than any other country, Forbes noted. The magazine said at least 47 American individuals and 20 U.S. families are worth more than $1 billion, compared with 32 individuals and families in second-place Japan and 16 in third-ranked West Germany.
The leading American billionaires is Sam Walton, the head of major retailer Wal-Mart Stores, who ranks seventh worldwide with a net worth of $6.5 billion, Forbes estimates.
After Walton, the biggest U.S. fortunes are held by Donald and Samuel Newhouse ($4.7 billion), Jay and Robert Pritzker ($3.8 billion), Barbara Cox Anthony and Anne Cox Chambers ($3.6 billion), John Kluge ($3 billion) and H. Ross Perot ($3 billion).
Not all the fortunes listed in Forbes' list were amassed in a respectable way.
Three of them belong to people the magazine identified as Colombian drug dealers, two individuals and one family, who are all part of the notorious Medellin cocaine cartel.
Two of the Colombian cocaine fortunes, those of Pablo Escobar Gaviria and the Ochoa family, are each more than $2 billion, Forbes said. It estimated the third, amassed by Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha, at between $1.3 billion and $3 billion.