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Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

Founder of Japan's Softbank to offer free iPhones, pay bills of orphans

Softbank founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son has rushed to help feed and shelter dislocated victims of the Japanese quake, pledging to replace iPhones and cover the mobile bills of the disaster's orphans.

Son visited the city of Tamura, one of the areas hardest hit by the Fukushima nuclear power plant failure, and announced plans to help 1,200 people relocate to Takeo, Saga, where Son is from, paying their living costs while helping them to find jobs, according to a report by Engadget.

Son has used Twitter to look for suggestions for ways to help effectively Japanese quake victims, and took the advice of people asking him to cover the mobile bills of orphans in order to help them stay in contact with friends and family.

Son has said he will both provide free phones and service coverage to quake orphans, and pledged to provide replacement iPhones for any who had lost or damaged theirs during the earthquake and tsunami disaster. Son has even said he would help orphans on other networks, including the larger NTT DoCoMo.



Son is ethnically Korean, making his philanthropy particularly notable in a country that has long maintained a negative perception of outsiders, and particularly Koreans, who make up the largest ethnic minority in the country.

As a teenager, Son moved with his family to South San Francisco, California and attended UC Berkeley, creating a fortune as a young entrepreneur by importing Space Invaders video games on the tech savvy campus.

Son subsequently became known for losing the most money of any single person in history after the DotCom crash erased $70 billion of his wealth, but with a net worth of $7 billion, he remains Japan's richest person.