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Uniqlo boss steers course through geopolitical controversies

Tadashi Yanai's Russia U-turn underlines reputational risks facing retailers

Tadashi Yanai, 73, is Japan's richest man, with a family fortune estimated at $26 billion. (Source photos by Kotaro Igarashi and AP) 

TOKYO -- Tadashi Yanai, the outspoken chief executive of Fast Retailing, has repeatedly complained of the pressures on business leaders to take a stand on controversial political topics. Those pressures were on display this week when he refused to close the company's Uniqlo clothing stores in Russia, only to reverse course a few days later.

The incident showed the deep communication challenges facing global companies at times of geopolitical tension, as more and more companies pull out of Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

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