Singapore, Japan ink 3 pacts in trade, infrastructure and tech

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Japan PM Shinzo Abe stand as the National Anthem of both countries are played at the Akasaka State Guest House.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Japan PM Shinzo Abe stand as the National Anthem of both countries are played at the Akasaka State Guest House. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong inspects the Guard of Honour with Japan PM Shinzo Abe.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong inspects the Guard of Honour with Japan PM Shinzo Abe. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong receives the Grand Cordon of the Order of Paulownia Flowers for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, from Japan PM Shinzo Abe.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong receives the Grand Cordon of the Order of Paulownia Flowers for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, from Japan PM Shinzo Abe. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Japan PM Shinzo Abe stand as the National Anthem of both countries are played at the Akasaka State Guest House.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Japan PM Shinzo Abe stand as the National Anthem of both countries are played at the Akasaka State Guest House. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Both prime ministers witness exchange of documents; PM Lee hosts lunch for 8 Japanese business leaders

Three agreements - in trade, infrastructure and technology - were inked between Singapore and Japan yesterday at a conference to mark 50 years of bilateral ties.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is in Tokyo for a four-day official visit, witnessed the exchange of the documents with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after a bilateral summit yesterday.

The pacts were signed at a business symposium organised by The Straits Times, Japan media group Nikkei Business Publications, Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) and IE Singapore in Tokyo.

The trade agreement, between IE Singapore and its Japanese counterpart Jetro, promises to boost connectivity between both countries.

This will be done through, among others, company visits and joint projects in "third-country markets" in South-east Asia and South Asia.

IE Singapore, too, has been helping home-grown companies expand into Japan. Last Thursday, barbecued pork retailer Bee Cheng Hiang opened its first Japan store in Tokyo's chic Ginza district, and Salad Stop will make its Japanese debut later this year in Tokyo, said IE Singapore chief executive officer Lee Ark Boon at the symposium.

Also, from Saturday, budget airline Scoot will fly between Hokkaido and Singapore, via Taipei.

The infrastructure pact was inked by Singapore urban and infrastructure development consultancy Surbana Jurong, and the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development (Join).

They will strengthen their collaboration on potential projects such as railways and transport systems, in territories such as Singapore, South-east Asia, India, the Middle East and Africa.

Under the third agreement, between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Tokyo Institute of Technology, both tertiary institutions will enter into a research collaboration agreement.

They will also work together in joint research and technology developments in areas such as environmental engineering, nuclear safety and engineering, robotics and technology-enhanced learning.

PM Lee hosted eight Japanese business leaders to lunch yesterday. During the 1½-hour session, they discussed potential areas of closer cooperation between Singapore and Japan companies.

PM Lee told the business leaders of Singapore's will to work together with Japan as it transforms its economy, upgrades its workforce and moves towards new technologies including robotics and fintech.

Chugai Pharmaceutical chairman Osamu Nagayama, who was at the lunch, said both sides could work together to better cope with common issues such as a greying population.

"There is a lot we can collaborate with Singapore, particularly in modern medicine that requires a lot of knowledge in molecular biology, linking to artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things," he said.

The entire life sciences industry has been "busily discussing disruptive technologies", he added, having heard how Singapore's Smart Nation drive offers many opportunities to be explored with its firms.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore, Japan ink 3 pacts in trade, infrastructure and tech'. Print Edition | Subscribe