14/04/2024 10:11 AM

By Christine Lim

KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 (Bernama)  -- Investments from Japan to Malaysia are expected to expand further into new areas of retail, green and sustainable energy, digital industry as well as increase in capacity in traditional areas in the manufacturing sector.

Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Katsuhiko Takahashi said Japanese companies view Malaysia as an attractive investment hub and are eager to do business in Malaysia.

While Takahashi may not be able to divulge the number of Japanese investments coming into Malaysia this year, he said based on recent trends, there will be a growth from an investment inflow of RM5.272 billion last year.

“Japanese companies are attracted to invest in Malaysia based on its cultural diversity, religious tolerance, good command of the English language and no major earthquake, tsunami or other disasters.

“As a result of the Look East Policy, there are many Malaysians that can speak Japanese,” he told Bernama in an interview.


Japanese companies in Malaysia


According to Takahashi, there are now 1,600 Japanese companies operating in Malaysia.

“We are the fourth largest investor in Malaysia after Singapore, Hong Kong and the US,” he noted.

He emphasised that Japanese companies are interested in expanding into the green energy sector, particularly in addressing climate change, in line with Malaysia’s aspirations to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Japanese companies Sumitomo Corp and Eneos inked a tripartite agreement with SEDC Energy, a subsidiary of Sarawak Economic Development Corp (SEDC), last year to establish clean hydrogen supply chain for local consumption and export to Japan.

He said carbon capture, utilisation and storage in clean energy is another potential area that Japan and Malaysia can collaborate.

The retail sector, according to Takahashi, has also attracted Japanese investors with the expansion of retail names such as Jonetz by Don Don Donki concept stores and Tsutaya bookstore.

“Another area is in the digital industry and the data centre for example with the setting up of Intelligent Centre Operations in Johor this year by NEC Corporation of Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of NEC Corporation, a Japanese information technology and electronics corporation,” he said.

In healthcare, he said Japanese companies such as Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co Ltd has invested in IHH Healthcare Bhd and Sumitomo Corporation in managed care services in guidance of medical costs.

In the Islamic finance and halal industries, he said, Japanese investors viewed Malaysia as a favourable hub.

Takahashi said Japanese companies are also expanding into traditional areas of investment in the manufacturing sector in Malaysia such as the extension of production facilities by two Japanese companies based in Malaysia last year, namely ROHM-Wako Electronics (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and Taiyo Yuden (Sarawak) Co Ltd.

According to Takahashi, Malaysian companies are also investing in Japan as the Land of the Rising Sun is an attractive investment destination as a big market, good human resources and as one of the highest ranked research and development facilities in the world.

Malaysian companies that have successfully expanded their horizon to Japan are Aerodyne Group, a leading drone service provider and Pentamaster Corporation Bhd, an automation technology solutions and services provider as well as Berjaya Land Bhd in the tourism industry, Takahashi said.


Japan’s New Economic Era


He pointed out that Japanese economy is in a transitional period after a relatively quiet period for more than 25 years, with the government's efforts to stimulate the economy in order to come out from a period of economic stagnation.

“We are starting to see a new economic situation, with the recent hike in salaries this year, which were the highest in 33 years, that motivated the end of negative interest rate regime since 2007 on March 18," Takahashi noted.

But Takahashi said it is still not certain if the government can achieve a stable situation with the targeted inflation rate of two per cent after a period of deflation and weak economic growth due to the aftermath of the bubble economy in the 1990s.

He emphasised that Japan hoped for a better outlook after the Japanese bubble economy when asset prices and the stock market that was greatly inflated burst in 1992.

"We hope we can conduct business in a good way and if we can stimulate the Japanese economy, it will have a good impact on how we do business with foreign countries," Takahashi said.

However, he said the global situation is not conducive and that is why Malaysia and Japan need to collaborate in overcoming challenges to prosper.

Takahashi emphasised that Japan and Malaysia had already established strong diplomatic and economic relations built upon the Look East Policy that was first adopted in 1982 based upon the development of Malaysia’s economy and society through learning from Japan.

This relationship, he noted, is further enhanced through the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that was announced during Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's visit to Japan last year, to cover a wider range of issues that include peace and security cooperation, economic prosperity, science, technology, innovation and environment, society, cultural and people-to-people exchange as well as regional and global cooperation.






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