Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa says he trusts Elon Musk ahead of SpaceX private moon flight

SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk (AP) Credit: AP/Press Association Images

The Japanese billionaire who will be the first private passenger on SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket says he respects and trusts Elon Musk, despite his recent troubles.

Online retail tycoon Yusaku Maezawa is scheduled to make the trip around the moon on Mr Musk's rocket in 2023.

Mr Musk has been forced to step down as chairman of Tesla - although he will remain as chief executive - after making “false and misleading statements” about plans to take the company private in a tweet in August.

After agreeing a deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr Musk and Tesla must each pay a $20 million (£15m) fine.

Speaking in Tokyo on Tuesday, Mr Maezawa, chief executive of Zozo, said: “Twitter can get you into trouble. And that can be said of Elon Musk, too.”

The 42-year-old is also active on social media, but said experts go over his tweets in advance and that his company has a Twitter policy. He said he is careful not to say anything that might hurt his company.

The entrepreneur said he got a good feel for Mr Musk’s character by visiting Tesla and seeing the relationship Mr Musk had with his employees.

“They believe in Elon Musk,” he said. “That kind of company is marvellous. I felt that as another entrepreneur.”

Elon Musk has been forced to step down as chairman of Tesla. Credit: AP

Mr Maezawa, who is estimated to be worth £2.2 billion, has said he will travel on the Space X orbit of the moon with six to eight guests.

He said nothing has been decided on who will go with him, but Mr Maezawa wants to take visual artists, fashion designers and musicians from a variety of backgrounds, including the actress he is dating, Ayame Goriki, “if she proves to be a good match for the mission”.

He shrugged off the possible dangers of space, just as he brushed off the risks of tweets and associations with Mr Musk.

Mr Maezawa said he has not yet started training for the mission, but he has been getting regular medical checkups and is brushing up on his English.