Uniqlo chief Yanai makes 2017 Asia Game Changers list, praised for ‘making philanthrophy fashionable’


Asia Society, a New York-based international exchange group, announced its 2017 list of Asia Game Changers on Tuesday, including Tadashi Yanai, founder of Fast Retailing Co., which runs the Uniqlo clothing store chain around the globe.

Yanai, who serves as chairman, president and chief executive officer of the company, was picked for “making philanthropy fashionable,” the group said in a statement.

The Uniqlo chain has donated 20 million articles of clothing to refugees in a total of 62 countries and regions, cooperating with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Asia Society said, adding that Yanai has personally contributed $10 million to help the UNHCR respond to various humanitarian crises.

Also on the 2017 list of Asia Game Changers, or those “making a transformative and positive difference for the future of Asia and the world,” are seven individuals and one organization. Among them is young female rapper and activist Sonita Alizadeh, who uses rap music to “empower the girls of Afghanistan.”

“This year’s Game Changers have each made a significant difference through a unique vision, perseverance and courage,” Asia Society President Josette Sheeran said. “In a world of challenges, it is important to honor the dreamers and leaders, those who take action and those who inspire us to build a better world.”

Yanai is the fourth Japanese awardee of the prize, which was established in 2014. The other three include scientist Isamu Akasaki, who won the 2014 Nobel Prize in physics for creating blue light-emitting diodes.

An award event is scheduled to take place at the U.N. headquarters in New York on Nov. 1.

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