Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s first trip abroad since his election will be to Southeast Asia, despite his desire to make the United States his first destination.
Abe will visit Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia later this month, according to reports in the Japanese media.
According to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, he had to put off a U.S. visit because of “scheduling difficulties” with U.S. President Barack Obama.
“While I want to go to the United States as soon as possible and hold a summit to strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance, I’ve broadened the scope of my schedule, partly because of the circumstances [on the U.S. side],” Abe told reporters in Tokyo Tuesday.
A U.S. visit could come in February, according to reports.
“What’s really important here is that, in contrast to his previous administration, he’s decided not to visit China,” said Mireya Solis, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and associate professor at American University focusing on Japan studies.
During 2012 Japan remained the top investor in Thailand with 474 projects registered by the BOI worth Bt210.8 billion, an increase of 120 per cent from Bt.97.3 billion last year. This is in line with the previous survey by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce predicting that total Japanese investment value in the first half of this year would exceed Bt100 billion.
Japan Remains Top Investor in Thailand
Most of the approved investment applications submitted by Japanese investors were in BOI-targeted industries such as automotive and auto parts, metal products, electronics and electrical appliances, food, plastic products, and R&D. For example, large Japanese companies making investment this year are Nippon Steel Galvanizing (Thailand) Co.; Panasonic Manufacturing (Thailand) Co.; Funai (Thailand) Co., Ltd.; NEC Tokin Electronics (Thailand) Co., Ltd; Toshiba Semiconductor (Thailand) Co., Ltd.; Ajinomoto Frozen Foods (Thailand) Co.; and JSR BST Elastomer Co., Ltd.