Trump's Immigration Ban: CEO of Rakuten, Japan's Amazon, Reacts With Tears, Free Calls

Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani - Getty H 2017
Courtesy of Getty Images

The outspoken Hiroshi Mikitani pledges on Twitter to support his company's Muslim staff and offers free calls via the firm's Viber service from America to the seven countries affected.

Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Japanese e-commerce and investment giant Rakuten, condemned U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration ban and said the company, sometimes called Japan's answer to Amazon, will offer free calls from America to the seven countries affected via its phone and messaging unit Viber.

"My dad is crying in the heaven. He went to Harvard, Stanford and Yale. He was so proud, and I am too. Now I am really crying," tweeted Mikitani, whose father taught economics at Yale University.

"I am very sad to see what is happening now in the U.S. I came to U.S. when I was seven, and I really respect big American big heart. But it is wrong as a human being to uniformly discriminate based on religion and nationality," tweeted Mikitani, who completed an MBA at Harvard in 1993. "We will make sure we will support our Muslim staff members as a company and personally as well."

Rakuten bought Viber, which has more than 800 million users, in 2014 for $900 million. The messaging app allows for free calls between users but charges for calls to fixed-line phones and non-registered cell phones.

Tech companies in the U.S. have led criticism of Trump's ban on entry from seven majority-Muslim nations. Businesspeople in Japan are often reluctant to comment on politics or international affairs, but Mikitani has long been known as outspoken, positioning himself outside the mainstream corporate establishment.

Japanese opposition leader Renho Murata asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to condemn the travel ban in the Japanese parliament on Monday, but the conservative leader said it would be inappropriate to comment. Abe was the first foreign leader to visit Trump in November after his election win.

The Japanese government and military were concerned about Trump's campaign rhetoric about removing U.S. bases from Japan if the Asian country didn't contribute more to help cover their cost.

Japan's record on accepting refugees is less than stellar, despite a severe labor shortage due to a declining population. The country granted asylum to just 11 people in 2014 and 27 in 2015, representing approximately 0.2 percent of applications.