NEW YORK -- Two Japanese businessmen captured the top slots on Forbes magazine's list of the richest people in the world, but the United States is home to a third of the 291 billionaires in the rankings, according to the current issue of the magazine released Monday.
Japanese real estate magnate Taikichiro Mori, whose net worth is estimated at $13 billion acquired through real estate holdings, continued to hold the title as the world's richest man for the second consecutive year.
The 88-year-old real estate tycoon kept the No. 1 position even though Forbes estimated his net worth dropped by about $2 billion last year because of falling property values in Japan.
Nevertheless, Mori remained well ahead of second-ranked Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, a 58-year-old railroad and golf course magnate with some $10 billion that can be confirmed by the magazine. Forbes published its sixth annual World's Billionaires list in the July 20 edition.
The United States has more billionaires with 101 than any other country, followed by Germany with 44, Japan with 34, Canada with 10, France with nine, Hong Kong and Mexico both with eight, Switzerland with seven and Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Italy with six each, the magazine said.
Japan's stock and real estate market troubles have removed seven names that appeared on last year's list from the current rankings.
The heirs of the late Sam Moore Walton, founder of Wal-Mart stores -- the largest U.S. retailer with headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. -- were right behind the two Japanese businessmen on the list. The Walton family has a collective fortune of $23.8 billion divided among Walton's widow and four of his children.
Ranked fourth in wealth were the du Pont family with $8.6 billion. The family made its fortune from the Du Pont Co., the chemical and oil giant based in Wilmington, Del.
The Mars family ranked fifth with $8 billion. Mars Inc., the family's candy and confection conglomerate, is based in Hackettstown, N.J.
Sixth place was taken by the Rausing brothers of Sweden. Their $7 billion net worth comes from Tetra Pak, an $8 billion company that manufactures sealed packaging worldwide, and the acquisition of a dairy and food-processing equipment company in Sweden.
The richest man in Germany, 58-year-old Erivan Haub, won the No. 7 position on the Forbes list with a net worth of $6.9 billion. Haub's fortune was made in supermarkets in Europe and the United States, including the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. supermarket chain.
William Henry Gates III, the 34-year-old founder of Microsoft Co. -- the computer software company based in Redmond, Wash. -- ranked eighth with $6.4 billion, which also earned him the title of the richest individual American.
The Haniel family of Germany cornered the No. 9 slot with a net worth of $6.4 billion. The family owns major food wholesalers in the United States and trucking, pharmaceutical and and environmental consulting businesses in East Germany.
Canada's Kenneth Roy Thomson, 68, rounded off the top ten with a net worth of more than $6.2 billion. His publishing and retailing empire includes small town newspapers in North America, the American Banker and the Hudson Bay Company stores in Canada.
Unannounced presidential candidate H. Ross Perot, whose net worth is $2.2 billion, was ranked 20th among Americans.
Another development the magazine noted was the increased pace at which wealth is being created in Latin American countries. The number of billionaires there has almost tripled to 21 from eight, including Pablo Escobar Gaviria, 42, co-founder and head of Colombia's Medellin cocaine cartel, who is believed to be managing from jail the $2 billion he probably made on the cocaine trade.
His Medellin co-founders, the Ochoa brothers of Colombia, also are in jail and believed to have cleared more than $2 billion from the cocaine business, Forbes said.
British mogul Richard Branson, a newcomer to the list, is worth about $1.2 billion. He recently sold his Virgin record label to Thorn EMI for $961 million.
Other foreign billionaires on the Forbes list include The Agha Khan IV; Canada's Charles Bronfman, heir to the Seagrams fortune; Italy's Giovanni Agnelli, who heads Fiat; Greece's Stavros Niarchos, the shipping magnate; the Porsche family of Germany; the Peugot family of France; the Vuitton family of France; Japan's Morita family, which made its fortune on Sony Corp.; Italy's Benetton family; and Italian publishing and broadcasting tycoon Silvio Berlusconi.
Forbes said the list excludes royal families and heads of state because their wealth derives from political heritage and not economic effort.