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Japan-Asean Investment Conference set for March 6

Japanese and Thai business leaders are due to convene at an international conference on "Japan's New Wave of Overseas Investment: Thailand and Asean-Plus-One" here on Thursday.

Despite the political crisis, the conference will go ahead as scheduled with more than 400 participants at the Plaza Athene Hotel.

"Everybody recognises that it has to be business as usual, especially when there is a new wave of Japanese investment in Thailand and the region," Pana Janviroj, president of The Nation, said last week.

The Nation is organising the conference along with the Yomiuri Shimbun and Japan News with support from the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau. The hosts are Krungsri Bank and Ananda Development.

A new wave of Japanese investment is being seen in areas such as financial, retail, health, education and residential services.

Among the speakers will be Hisamichi Koga, vice president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok; Kenetsugu Mike, vice chairman of Bank of Ayudhya and senior managing executive officer of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ; Setsuo Iuchi, president of Jetro Bangkok; and Shuichi Ikeda, chief representative of Jica Thailand.

The keynote address will be delivered by Heang Chhor, a senior partner of McKinsey & Company and author of the acclaimed book "Reimaging Japan".

Other top Japanese speakers will be Akihiko Tobe, general manager of the Social Innovation Business Project Division of Hitachi, and Ryosuke Chono, managing director of Toray Industries Thailand.

Thai speakers include Chokedee Kaewsang, former economic counsellor of the Board of Investment's Tokyo office; Nath Vongpanich, CEO of Siam FamilyMart Co under Central Retail Group; and Chanon Ruangkritya, CEO of Ananda Development Co, which recently formed a property joint venture with Mitsui & Co.

Suthipong Phuenphiphop, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association, will also join the panel to highlight the progress of the boom in Thai tourism to Japan.

Conference topics are timely with the advent of the Asean Economic Community and impacts from Abenomics, which are encouraging Japanese firms to go overseas. Under discussion will be Japan's initiatives for Asean and how Thailand and Asean are preparing for the new wave of Japanese investment.

Japanese investment in Southeast Asia jumped 55 per cent in the first six months of last year to US$10.29 billion. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is particularly enthusiastic about Japan's renewed focus on ties with Asean. And Thailand has been one of the main hubs for Japanese investment for the past 40 years.


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