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Tareq Amin, left, sold Rakuten founder Hiroshi Mikitani on the idea of building Japan's fourth mobile network -- using technology that was still untested at the time. (Source photos by Rie Ishii, courtesy of Rakuten)
Business Spotlight

Calling all disrupters: Japan's Rakuten bets big on virtual networks

After 2 years and $2bn in losses, can the e-commerce giant realize its mobile ambitions?

FRANCESCA REGALADO, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- In early March, Rakuten executives Hiroshi Mikitani and Tareq Amin returned to Barcelona, the site of their fateful first meeting. On the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in 2018, Amin, then an executive at Indian telecom Reliance Jio, had sold Rakuten founder Mikitani on the idea of building Japan's fourth mobile network and using a then-untested technology to do it.

"I told Mickey that this was a very risky approach," Amin, now chief technology officer of Rakuten Mobile, told Nikkei Asia in an interview. "If we want to disrupt, we will need to do things differently."

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