Singapore, Japan companies urged to collaborate on expanding into 3rd countries in South-east and South Asia

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to Japanese business leaders during lunch at Imperial Hotel in Tokyo on Sept 27, 2016.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to Japanese business leaders during lunch at Imperial Hotel in Tokyo on Sept 27, 2016. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

TOKYO - Having forged strong partnerships over the last 50 years, Singapore and Japanese companies should now build on their collaboration to expand into third countries such as those in South-east and South Asia, said speakers at a business symposium in Tokyo on Wednesday (Sept 28). 

Such cooperation represents the next wave of economic growth for both countries, the speakers said, and will allow their companies to break into markets such as India and Thailand, in industries including infrastructure, healthcare and financial services.

Singapore brings to the table its insight into and close ties with its neighbouring markets, while Japan is a global leader in technology and innovation, noted IE Singapore’s deputy chief executive Chua Taik Him in a dialogue during the symposium.

The one-day event was organised by Nikkei Business Publications, The Straits Times, the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) and IE Singapore to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Japan.

Working together, the two countries can more easily make inroads into industrial complexes in India – a “difficult” market to enter alone – as well as healthcare in Thailand and financial technology (fintech) across Asia, added Mr Yasushi Akahoshi, president of Jetro.


Indeed, Singapore business space developer Ascendas-Singbridge on Wednesday made a pitch to invite Japanese companies as partners for its various projects in the region, including joint investments in urban developers, technology ventures and economic and social initiatives.

It has already worked with Japan’s Mizuho Bank and JGC, among others, to develop OneHub Chennai in Asia.

“Several of the fastest growing cities will be in Asean” in the coming years, and the region will need US$60 billion (S$81.6 billion) of infrastructure investment annually until 2022, said Ascendas-Singbridge’s deputy CEO Manohar Khiatani in a speech at the symposium. 

He identified several potential investment opportunities in building new cities, upgrading mature ones, introducing technology to make cities sustainable and “smart”, and creating sufficient good-quality jobs to ensure that urbanisation is beneficial for citizens. 

The symposium, held at the United Nations University in Shibuya, Tokyo, was co-organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and sponsored by Ascendas-Singbridge, KPMG, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Airlines, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Touche and Yamato Holdings.