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Honda marks its first business jet sale in Japan

Investor and game company co-founder Kotaro Chiba buys $5m plane

Honda Motor delivered its first HondaJet business plane in Japan on Dec. 20.

TOKYO -- Honda Motor delivered Thursday its first HondaJet business plane in Japan to prominent investor Kotaro Chiba, co-founder of game company Colopl.

The automaker is moving into the largely untapped domestic market for private business planes. It handed over a HondaJet Elite boasting an improved range of 2,661 km -- enough for direct flights between Tokyo and Beijing or Shanghai. The jet is priced at $5.25 million.

Business jets are common in Western countries but less so in Japan, in part due to the availability of fast alternatives like shinkansen bullet trains. Japan's private sector held 57 business jets at the end of 2016, compared with more than 19,000 in the U.S., the world's largest market.

Honda became the world's leading supplier of small business jets in 2017. In Japan, it began taking orders in June and has received orders for more than 10 units so far.

Chiba, known as an investor in startups, says he will own the plane jointly with entrepreneur Takafumi Horie, who founded the defunct internet service company Livedoor, and Kotaro Yamagishi, CEO of investment fund Keio Innovation Initiative.

"We will use the plane in our daily life and share information about it as the first step in opening up Japan's skies," Chiba said.

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