The Look-To-Singapore Idea in Japan during Lee Kuan Yew Era

Essay, 2015
10 Pages



The Look-To-Singapore Idea in Japan during Lee Kuan Yew Era


The Look-To-Singapore Idea in Japan during Lee Kuan Yew Era

'Learning from Japan’ is a word of wisdom expressed by Lee Kuan Yew to speed up the industrialization process between Singapore and Japan. This motto gives great meaning in an effort to further strengthen Singapore's economy in particular, and the ASEAN economies generally, in helping the region achieve a self-sufficient level expected. By making Japanese an economy example, Singapore will be able to acquire the skills and expertise of Japan in the field of economy, science and technology to serve as a stimulus to progress the region. Japan has cultural characteristics that are closer and suitable example for ASEAN countries because its eastern elements. Singapore's move to emulate Japan is made because the country's ability to develop its economy from collapse after the Second World War to became a respected industrial country.[1]

Leadership characteristics which enable Japan to emerge as the champion of the world economy and full attention to the needs of development and economic development, without neglecting the elements of Asian culture are inspiring Singapore. To explore the successes achieved by Japan, the country's economic strategy needs to be understood first.[2] One simple indicator that can be used to show the importance of the relationship between Singapore and Japan is the visit made by the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew to Japan. Between 1969 to 1979, he traveled to Japan nine times and the aim is certainly not to travel, but as he said himself, "Every time I visit Japan, its economic progress and social remind me of what can be achieved if there is a country that has people who are hardworking and talented, educated and well-organized ... ".[3]

In August 1973, the Ambassador of Japan in Singapore, Tokichiro Uomoto state about 20 percent foreign investment in Japan is expected to be planted in Singapore and Southeast Asia, and this number will increase in the years to come.[4] Next on 23 August 1973, he stressed that Japan is trying desperately to get a market for the products that are imported from Singapore. Japan may cut import taxes and take other measures to encourage Singapore exporting goods. He assured that Japan would invest capital to meet Singapore's long-term corporate plan. Japanese companies play an important role in shipbuilding, finance, chemical production, electronics and other areas of the company in Singapore. Singapore and Japan have much in common in economics and had to import foodstuffs, raw materials for the company and also oil.[5] In the same month also, K. Shimizu, general manager of JETRO in Singapore state that Japan is willing to buy more products in Singapore. But Singapore manufacturers must review the exact requirements and improve the quality of their products in accordance with the progress of Japanese society.[6]

On 15 August 1977, Japanese Prime Minister, Takeo Fukuda pledged that Japan would work more closely with Singapore in the areas of politics, culture and others to strengthen the relationship.[7] In August 1978, the Japanese Ambassador to Singapore, Kiyaoki Kikuchi pointed out that Japanese investment in Singapore is in line with the period when economic development and public capital formation is encouraged to achieve high standards. Japanese investment in Singapore is currently mainly concentrated in shipbuilding, ship repair, transport vehicles, electronics and construction companies in the sector as well as banks, insurance, warehousing and trading. Japanese investors regard Singapore as a center to move to other Southeast Asia countries. Since the Singapore government and its businessmen always pay great attention to developments in technology and the global economy, they will not be left behind in the progress of the world. In addition to economic cooperation between the businessmen of Japan and Singapore, cooperation between the two can also be found in the technical field that involves the transfer of technical know-how and technology.[8]

In September 1984, a spokesman for the Japanese Embassy in Singapore declares while Japanese companies in Singapore complained about the high salaries, they still find Singapore an attractive place for investment because of other factors including good infrastructure, political stability, highly skilled and knowledgeable human resources. High-tech companies that require skilled labor will continue to come to Singapore while companies that need a lot of labor will look other ASEAN countries. This reflects the success of the Singapore government to restructure the companies in the country.[9] On 22 April 1980, the Director of Nippon Gakki Company Limited, Hiroshi Kawashima expressed Singapore's position as a center of ASEAN companies and entrepreneurs’ confidence of the government that encourages foreign investment environment has prompted Japanese investors to choose this country as an important base for overseas companies.[10]

On 14 January 1981, Japanese Prime Minister, Zenko Suzuki explains the decline of Japanese investment in Singapore is not the only thing that experienced by the country, but due to the overall economic recession in the world. He is confident and expects Japanese investments to Singapore will increase again in line with the global economic recovery and ASEAN will enjoy better growth economically. It is important to ensure a favorable investment climate to enhance economic cooperation at the international level. He has made a recommendation and will continue to provide recommendations to the ASEAN leaders so that they signed an agreement with Japan individually to guarantee investment promotion. Incentives agreement and investment guarantee would give investors confidence on their invested wealth in a country. For example in the event of a move to make Japanese investors owned factory as a state-owned, the investor is assured to receive adequate compensation for property investments. Japan wants to learn from Singapore in housing schemes and the methods used to control inflation. He was proud of the willingness of Singapore to learn the secrets of success in Japan economy and Japanese itself has things to learn from Singapore.[11] On 14 April 1998, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore, Hiroshi Hashimoto expressed confidence that Japanese firms will continue to maintain its investment in Singapore despite the economic difficulties faced in Japan and in the region.[12]

The importance of Singapore to the Japanese economy is visible through official trips and economics from Japan to discuss economic relations between the two countries, exchanged views on the international financial situation and strengthen ties between the people of both countries. Among them were visits from three Japanese manufacturing experts, Mamoru Iwamoto from JETRO, Koichi Saigo, a specialist maker of underwear and Hirofumi Yokota, an expert in the building decoration to advise Singapore producers on 30 August 1973 to correct their exports to Japan,[13] official visits from Japanese Prime Minister, Kakuei Tanaka on 11 January 1974,[14] the delegation of 17 Japanese investors led by Ship Building Company President and Engineering of Hitachi, Takao Tagata in October 1975,[15] the visit of a delegation of 11 Japanese traders that were sponsored by the Japanese government on 9 April 1976,[16] the visit of nine members of Investment Promotion group consisting of Japanese officials and leading businessmen on 18 May 1977,[17] the visit of Prime Minister of Japan, Takeo Fukuda on 14 August 1977,[18] the investment reconnaissance mission headed by the President of Marubeni Corporation, Taiichiro Matsuo on 5 October 1978,[19] the delegation of 20 officials from Kansai Economic Federation led by Chairman of Matsushita Electric Company, Masaharu Matsushita in January 1980,[20] the visit of Masumi Esaki delegation, Chairman of the Special Committee for Japanese Economy Measures of more than 6 persons in July 1982,[21] a special group of members led by Masumi Esaki, Chairman of the Special Committee for International Economic Measures representing the President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan, Zenko Suzuki, who is also Prime Minister of Japan on 31 July 1982,[22] the delegation of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Japan led by Shingo Moriyama, an adviser to the ministry and former general director of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy on 2 February 1983,[23] Japanese investment mission in January 1985 consisted of 10 top executives of Japanese high-tech companies from Kyoto to study the situation and opportunities investment in Singapore[24] and a group of Japanese trade organization composed of 50 officials from the Japanese Economic Organizations Federation (Keidanren), which comprises the largest 1,118 companies in Japan in May 1989.[25]

On 2 March 1988, member of the House of Representatives and former Minister of State for Defense of Japan, Koichi Kato assured that Japan will not pull back Lightest Trading System offered to Singapore and the newly industrialized countries (NIC) of Asia. This assurance helps relieve Singapore government anxiety after the United States decided to drop Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong from Lightest Trading System beginning January 1989. Under this system, some of the developing countries which export to the Japanese market are taxed at the rate of low or no taxable. However, there are critics who say that the Japanese Lightest Trading System scheme does not benefit as expected. This is because Lightest Trading System benefits granted by the Japanese was so small, while trade barriers are widespread.[26]

Japan's total investment in Singapore was $1,000 million in 1975[27] and $108 million in 1977.[28] Japan’s total investment of $801 million at the end of 1978 making it the third largest foreign investor in Singapore after the United States and the Netherlands, but ahead of Britain and West Germany.[29] Japan is also a leading trading partner for Singapore with total trade totaled $6.4 billion in 1977, an increase of 21 percent compared to the number in 1976, or 14 percent of Singapore's total external trade. Singapore's exports to Japan totaled $1.916 million, an additional 14.8 percent or $248 million, compared with a total of $1,668 million in 1976. While Japan imports amounted to $4.474 million, an additional 25 percent compared to 1976.[30]

This additional according to Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) are largely due to the flow of Japanese investment into Singapore. Bilateral trade between the two countries since the former is more in favor of Japan, but in terms of statistics it is not detrimental to Singapore. This is because about 2/3 of the total goods imported by Singapore from Japan are capital goods and materials for the company. The majority of goods and materials are for the construction of Singapore companies. Many companies use it to be processed into consumer goods. Indirectly, imports of capital goods and materials have helped producers to get their share in the export market. This is evident in the Japanese joint venture in Singapore. Most goods exported by Singapore to Japan are petroleum, which amounted to $1,236 million in 1977, or 65 percent of Singapore's total exports to Japan.[31] In 1980, Japanese investment in Singapore worth US $140 million, or about S$364 million, compared to S$550 million in 1979, S$375 million in 1978[32] and US$349 million in 1977.[33] The total of Japanese investment in Singapore was $2,000 million in 1979.[34] Total exports of goods to Japan from Singapore in 1981 were $ 4.5 billion and the number of Japanese goods imported into Singapore was $10.5 billion. Japan's total investment in Singapore in 1981 was 16 percent from the overall investment amount.[35]

Japanese investments in Singapore in 1982 was $378 million, while from April to December 1983 was $533.4 million. Japanese investments in Singapore by March 1984 are $676.2 million.[36] In 1986, Japan's total investment in the manufacturing sector in Singapore reached $490 million. This is in addition to double from $244 million in 1985.[37] By September 1987, total investments of Japanese companies in Singapore are $476.9 million, not far from the $493.5 million invested in 1986.[38] Japan's investment in Singapore is expected to reach a record high more than $1 billion in 1995 compared with $950 million a year ago.[39] At the end of 1998, Japan overtakes the United States as the main foreign investor in Singapore.[40] Japanese companies in Singapore have invested more than $19 billion in fixed asset investment between 1997 and 2007.[41]


[1] Norman Suratman, Mencontohi kemajuan dari negara Matahari Terbit… in Berita Harian, 15 September 1983, p. 4.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Peranan Jepun yang lebih besar diinginkan utk industri2 tempatan in Berita Harian, 18 November 1979, p. 4.

[4] Anonymous, Pelaburan Jepun dlm. Berita Harian, 10 August 1973, p. 10.

[5] Anonymous, Jepun ingin barang2 S’pura dapat pasaran di negerinya. Usaha2 sedang dijalankan sedaya upaya-Uomoto in Berita Harian, 24 August 1973, p. 10.

[6] Anonymous, Pembaruan barang2 S’pura utk ekspot perlu-Pakar. Pengguna2 Jepun tekankan mutu pengeluaran in Berita Harian, 30 August 1973, p. 6.

[7] Anonymous, Ikrar Fukuda kerjasama erat dgn S'pura in Berita Harian, 16 August 1977, p. 1.

[8] Anonymous, Pasaran modal: Singapura dapat perhatian saudagar Jepun in Berita Harian, 10 August 1978, p. 10.

[9] Anonymous, Jepun dijangka labur sekitar $676 j tahun ini in Berita Harian, 12 September 1984, p. 8.

[10] Anonymous, Kenapa pelabur2 Jepun pilih S’pura… in Berita Harian, 23 April 1980, p. 3.

[11] Anonymous, PELABURAN DARI JEPUN DITAMBAH. Jika ekonomi pulih: Suzuki in Berita Harian, 15 January 1981, p. 1.

[12] Anonymous, 'Jepun akan kekalkan pelaburan di Singapura' in Berita Harian, 15 April 1998, p. 14.

[13] Anonymous, Pembaruan barang2 S’pura utk ekspot perlu-Pakar. Pengguna2 Jepun tekankan mutu pengeluaran in Berita Harian, 30 August 1973, p. 6. See also Anonymous, Pengeluar2 yang hendak jual barang2 di Jepun perlu buat kajian in Berita Harian, 30 August 1973, p. 5.

[14] Anonymous, Jepun digesa lebih jujur dalam tanaman modal in Berita Harian, 11 January 1974, p. 8. See also Anonymous, S’pura-Jepun boleh beri sumbangan yg baik kepada rantau Asia-Tanaka in Berita Harian, 12 January 1974, p. 1.

[15] Anonymous, Misi pelabur Jepun akan tiba di sini utk runding kemungkinan menambah pelaburan in Berita Harian, 24 October 1975, p. 8.

[16] Anonymous, Saudagar Jepun temui Menteri Kewangan in Berita Harian, 10 April 1976, p. 8.

[17] Anonymous, Misi Jepun-akan kaji peluang labor di S’pura in Berita Harian, 10 May 1977, p. 7. See also Anonymous, Pegawai2 industri Jepun-S’pura bincang soal peluang2 pelaburan in Berita Harian, 17 May 1977, p. 9.

[18] Anonymous, Runding lanjut dgn PM Lee bila Fukuda lawat S’pura in Berita Harian, 12 August 1977, p. 12. See also Anonymous, PM Lee dan Fukuda diduga bincang k-sama S’pura-Jepun dlm pertemuan in Berita Harian, 18 July 1977, p. 8.

[19] Anonymous, Peninjau2 laburan dari Jepun akan lawat empat hari ke sini in Berita Harian, 4 October 1978, p. 8.

[20] Anonymous, 20 dari Jepun bincang ekonomi in Berita Harian, 26 January 1980, p. 8.

[21] Anonymous, Usul agar Jepun iktiraf Sisir in Berita Harian, 4 August 1982, p. 2.

[22] Anonymous, Misi mewakili PM Suzuki lawata 4 hari ke Singapura in Berita Harian, 31 July 1982, p. 2.

[23] Anonymous, Misi Jepun ke sini kaji soal laburan in Berita Harian, 25 January 1983, p. 2. See also Anonymous, ‘Pelaburan Jepun di sini tak akan pesat’ in Berita Harian, 5 February 1983, p. 8.

[24] Anonymous, Mampu jadi pusat labur teknologi tinggi in Berita Harian, 15 April 1985, p. 8.

[25] Anonymous, Rombongan Jepun ke mari untuk galak pelaburan. Dijadualkan bertemu PM Lee hari ini in Berita Harian, 16 May 1989, p. 10.

[26] Anonymous, GSP: Jepun beri jaminan. Semua NIC Asia akan terus diberi keistimewaan in Berita Harian, 3 March 1988, p. 8.

[27] Anonymous, Laburan Jepun diduga berkurang tahun ini in Berita Harian, 9 October 1980, p. 2.

[28] Anonymous, Jepun diduga terus giatkan usaha labur in Berita Harian, 7 November 1978, p. 8.

[29] Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Peranan Jepun yang lebih besar diinginkan utk industri2 tempatan in Berita Harian, 18 November 1979, p. 4.

[30] Anonymous, Jepun rakan terkemuka perdagangan dgn S’pura in Berita Harian, 13 April 1978, p. 6.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Anonymous, Mengapa Jepun kurang labur di S’pura tahun lalu in Berita Harian, 16 September 1981, p. 2. See also Anonymous, S’pura ke-5 terbesar dgn pelaburan Jepun in Berita Harian, 23 August 1980, p. 2. See also Anonymous, Jumlah laburan Amerika tahun lalu di sini terus meningkat in Berita Harian, 21 August 1981, p. 3.

[33] Anonymous, Pasaran modal: Singapura dapat perhatian saudagar Jepun in Berita Harian, 10 August 1978, p. 10.

[34] Anonymous, Laburan Jepun diduga berkurang tahun ini in Berita Harian, 9 October 1980, p. 2.

[35] Anonymous, Usul agar Jepun iktiraf Sisir in Berita Harian, 4 August 1982, p. 2.

[36] Anonymous, Jepun dijangka labur sekitar $676 j tahun ini in Berita Harian, 12 September 1984, p. 8.

[37] Anonymous, Jepun tambah pelaburan di sini in Berita Harian, 27 January 1987, p. 8.

[38] Anonymous, BG Lee ketuai misi galak labur ke Jepun in Berita Harian, 23 November 1987, p. 1.

[39] Anonymous, Jepun labur lebih $1b di S'pura in Berita Harian, 21 November 1995, p. 12.

[40] Anonymous, Pelaburan Jepun atasi AS in Berita Harian, 5 June 2001, p. 8.

[41] Anonymous, Firma Jepun digesa lihat S'pura sebagai pusat 'jana nilai' in Berita Harian, 4 July 2007, p. 4.

Excerpt out of 10 pages


The Look-To-Singapore Idea in Japan during Lee Kuan Yew Era
National University of Malaysia
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
375 KB
Economic, Japan, Lee Kuan Yew, Look-To-Singapore Idea, Singapore
Quote paper
Uqbah Iqbal (Author), 2015, The Look-To-Singapore Idea in Japan during Lee Kuan Yew Era, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The Look-To-Singapore Idea in Japan during Lee Kuan Yew Era

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free