On June 24, 2020, Tadashi Yanai, chairman and CEO of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., pledged to donate 10 billion yen (about $94 million) to Kyoto University for medical research. Fast Retailing operates several clothing apparel brands including Uniqlo which has expanded its business to Asia, the U.S., and Europe.
During the press conference at Kyoto University, Yanai and two Nobel Prize winning university professors, Tasuku Honjo and Shinya Yamanaka, commented that Kyoto University will set up the “Yanai Foundation” for cancer immunotherapy research and education.
Yanai is going to make an annual donation of 500 million yen (about $4.6 million) for the next ten years to cancer immunotherapy research at the Center for Cancer Immunotherapy and Immunobiology where Honjo takes office as the director. Additionally, Yanai will donate 500 million yen for coronavirus research to combat the pandemic. He also pledged another 500 million yen every year to Yamanaka’s “my iPS cells” project to produce low-cost iPS cells for nine years from 2021.
“Cancer and virus are the major issues in medicine. It will be wonderful to work with Kyoto University,” Yanai said.
In Japan, there are often arguments for and against donations by celebrities. Some people criticize such donations as hypocrisy or publicity. However, Yanai’s large donations have been well-received by the most internet users. After watching the press conference, many commented that they would like to shop at Uniqlo.