Japanese Interests to Singapore during Lee Kuan Yew Era

Seminar Paper, 2015
12 Pages


Japanese Interests to Singapore 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]

On 17 June 1973, the new Singapore ambassador to Japan, Wee Mon Cheng expressed his hope to encourage the Japanese people to invest and divert their modern technology to Singapore. He will also encourage the Japanese people to buy light company goods made in Singapore.[4]

In January 1975, Singapore's ambassador to Japan, Cheng Wee Moon described the year 1975 as an important year for Japanese investors to invest in Singapore. The worldwide economic downturn brings new opportunities for the development and restructuring of companies in Singapore. With that the Japanese businessmen and companies should take this opportunity to develop together a strong company for mutual benefits. They should be prepared to feel the benefit when world economic activity and opportunities in the Southeast Asian region live again. The world market scenario has caused many workers in Singapore discharged from factories that use a lot of labor, such as electronics, timber and garments which takes half of Singapore's labor force. Because they are young, they have become a useful source of labor and can be trained by new factories.[5]

In September 1975, Singapore's ambassador to Japan, Wee Moon Cheng state Japanese must refrain from damaging role played by Southeast Asian countries in developing their economic strategy. This is because the healthy economic situation in the region will affect the state of the Japanese economy. Not wrong for Japan to pay more attention to the Middle East and Latin America, but Japan should not forget that Southeast Asia is as important as the United States to Japan. He did not imagine what will happen to the economic development and security of Japan if Japan one day found it was unable to carry out free trade with the countries of Southeast Asia and the loss of one-fifth of the country's total foreign trade income.[6]

Although Singapore is a small country, but it and Japan have a lot of items to be offered in exchange in the fields of trade, industry and investment opportunities. Japan reminded of the importance of South East Asia, trade statistics in 1974 showed that Southeast Asia has accounted for about 20 percent of Japan’s outside revenue, similar to what it get from the United States. Japan's trade with the Middle East amounted to only 15 percent of its foreign income and with Latin America only 13 percent. Singapore can offer a lot of convenience to Japanese traders include services, finance, technology, and as a base for the production of goods. But Singapore's economic progress may be increased if Japan encourage more investment firm, providing broader training facilities and introduce and import more products to Singapore.[7]

In November 1975, Singapore's ambassador to Japan, Wee Moon Cheng state people in the ASEAN region amounted to 250 million people is a market for any investments in Singapore. Goods made in Singapore can also be exported to all over the world as it has been described as the world market.[8] On 23 December 1975, he urged Japanese investment members to devote more capital in Singapore in order to benefit both countries. Japan is the largest trading partner to Singapore in 1974. Japan also urged to buy more goods from Singapore especially light industrial products that are cheaper than they produce themselves. As a central market in South East Asia, Singapore would provide more business with Japan. Japan is also the most active foreign investors in Singapore in 1974. Japanese companies will get many benefits by removing their products in Singapore. The establishment of Consulate General office in Osaka is the result of Wee Moon Cheng efforts to promote cultural and economic activities between the two countries.[9]

In February 1978, Singapore's ambassador to Japan, Wee Mon Cheng state the number of Japanese investments in Singapore in that year will continue to grow because Singapore has low prices for land to build factories, Singapore has a lower rate of pay with a good yield and the value of the Yen is higher in Singapore in accordance with the exchange rate.[10] In August 1978, he stated investment from Japan to Singapore at the end of 1978 is expected to increase because Japanese producers feel the cost of higher wages, soaring land prices and foreign exchange rates that are less well established to undertake investment in their countries. Due to this, Singapore businessmen duties are to provide a place and a good supply of labor to Japanese businessmen. Singapore can be Japanese option because of its good location and sufficient facility. Japanese investment in Singapore has increased by 31 percent in 1977 and this is expected to continue. Another advantage achieved by Singapore of the appreciation of the Yen is tourism. This is because the Japanese people find it too expensive to travel from Tokyo to Osaka than holidays from Japan to ASEAN. An increase of 35.8 percent of visitors from Japan to Singapore is a good sign in a tourist company and the situation is believed to continue for a long period of time.[11] This is because the presence of Japanese tourists in large numbers in Singapore are due to the large number of Japanese investment here and the Japanese forming the largest expatriate group in number. ASEAN tourists also visit Singapore for business, shopping or just a path on the way home or abroad. On 27 February 1980, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Dr. Goh Keng Swee said that Japanese investments have provided employment opportunities for Singaporeans other than improving government sources.[12]

On 27 March 1984, Senior Minister of State (Prime Minister's Office), Lee Khoon Choy state Economic Development Board (EDB) is started negotiations to obtain the cooperation of a number of Japanese multinational companies (MNCs) to sponsor Singaporean study at leading universities in Japan. The main purpose of this effort is to enable those who have been choosen to learning the work attitude and management practiced by Japanese companies. Hopefully they will become the dealer to transfer high technology and Japanese investment knowledge in intensive to Singapore. Japanese investment quality in Singapore has improved from time to time since 1960. Japan has managed to take strategic measures in Singapore in accordance with the Singapore government's call to encourage companies to use a more sophisticated and less labor to establish here. Japanese companies in Singapore have succeeded in producing goods with higher added value. They use equipment to reduce dependence on labor. Apart from that, they also provide training and improve the skills of its employees in the use of companies’ machinery and computer technology.[13]

In August 1984, the Minister of Finance which also Minister of Trade and Industry of Singapore, Dr. Tony Tan said that one advantage Singapore have compared to its two closest competitors, South Korea and Taiwan are the ability to move a new company as soon as possible. However, it should pay attention to the cost factor. Singapore will also focus on enterprises that require high skills such as enterprise services that can be spared from trade protection policy.[14]

On 30 May 1986, Minister of State (Trade and Industry and Home Affairs) of Singapore, Dr. Lee Boon Yang expressed the commitment of Japanese investments during 1985 exceeded the level of annual investment over the past five years. He was pleased to see in recent more Japanese companies in Singapore who has switched from production to consumption industrial products, development and design engineering. Singapore government hopes to encourage more Japanese investors expand their activities than simply the production of research, development and design of products as well as establish a comprehensive business centers in Singapore. With the facilities available, Japanese companies are expected to make Singapore as a good center to expand their development activities to cover the needs of countries in the Asia-Pacific region in particular and the world in general. In June 1986, the Finance Minister of Singapore, Dr. Richard Hu said that the presence of Japanese companies in Singapore is small, but the fund management sector showed favorable growth. He was referring to the presence of two Japanese companies that have operations in Southeast Asia and has established investment companies in Singapore to manage their money.[15]

On 12 August 1986, Minister of State (Trade and Industry and Home Affairs of Singapore) of Singapore, Dr. Lee Boon Yang urged Japanese companies to take a more active part in its Local Companies Improvement Plan (LCIP) to help local companies reduce costs and improve production quality. Program conducted by the Small Business Bureau (SEB) is not only to provide assistance in terms of financial and other, but also help their suppliers to increase productivity and improve quality. It will also reduce the price of materials and services suppliers. The cost reduction will benefit both parties because it would make Singapore industrial products can compete in the market.[16]

On 15 July 1988, the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew declared Singapore can play an important role in the strategy of Japanese multinational companies to expand its activities in the world. From Singapore, Japanese companies can meet the needs of the market not only in their country but also the region and the world market. They can also make use of the labor force in the ASEAN region which is larger and cheaper. Japan will be a major player in the ASEAN region's economic growth next century. It can strengthen the relationship with other countries in Asia through trade and transfer of technology and expertise that is independent through investments. Economic relations can also be reinforced through cultural and social exchange and human relations more frequently.[17]

In June 1989, First Deputy Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong stated that companies from Japan and Singapore could work together to explore opportunities for trade and investment in areas that has many employee and supply of natural resources.[18] On 14 February 1992, the Singapore Malay National Organisation (PKMS) remind Singapore society to stop criticizing Japan for the atrocities and suffering that brought during the Second World War. It is feared could affect the country's investment here, and worse still encourage them to produce war equipment to expand its military power again.[19] On 9 May 1993, the Prime Minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong state more Singaporean entrepreneurs should penetrate the Japanese market. Singaporean entrepreneurs should not just look to China.[20]


[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, Berharap rakyat Jepun tambah tanaman modal di S’pura in Berita Harian, 17 June 1973, p. 14.

[5] Anonymous, Pengusaha2 Jepun diseru lebih banyak melabur modal di Singapura in Berita Harian, 22 January 1975, p. 8.

[6] Anonymous, Jepun digesa giatkan lagi dagangan dengan S’pura. Berbagai2 kemudahan disediakan utk kepentingan bersama – Wee in Berita Harian, 12 September 1975, p. 2.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Anonymous, 250 juta rakyat ASEAN pasaran yg baik untuk Jepun in Berita Harian, 22 November 1975, p. 2.

[9] Anonymous, Peniaga2 Jepun digesa labur lebih banyak di S’pura in Berita Harian, 24 December 1975, p. 2.

[10] Anonymous, Beberapa buah syarikat Jepun akan buka cawangan, labur $200j. di Singapura in Berita Harian, 16 February 1978, p. 8.

[11] Anonymous, Lebih banyak pelaburan dari Jepun diduga: Dubes in Berita Harian, 22 August 1978, p. 8.

[12] Anonymous, Pelaburan Jepun bantu S'pura: Goh in Berita Harian, 27 February 1980, p. 1.

[13] Anonymous, Cari penaja rakyat belajar di varsiti Jepun. Biar pelajar kita dalami sikap kerja di sana in Berita Harian, 28 March 1984, p. 8.

[14] Anonymous, Tiga faktor boleh jejas pelaburan in Berita Harian, 9 August 1984, p. 1.

[15] Anonymous, Minebea bentuk firma pelaburan bernilai $70 juta in Berita Harian, 27 June 1986, p. 2.

[16] Anonymous, Kos dan mutu: Gesaan kepada syarikat Jepun in Berita Harian, 13 August 1986, p. 3.

[17] Anonymous, Jadikan Singapura sebagai pusat niaga, seru PM in Berita Harian, 16 July 1988, p. 1.

[18] Anonymous, Jepun diajak teroka bersama peluang labor in Berita Harian, 15 June 1989, p. 1.

[19] Anonymous, PKMS: Usah lagi kecam Jepun in Berita Harian, 15 February 1992, p. 16.

[20] Anonymous, PM gesa usahawan tembusi Jepun in Berita Harian, 10 May 1993, p. 1.

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Japanese Interests to Singapore during Lee Kuan Yew Era
National University of Malaysia
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Economic, Japan, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore
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Uqbah Iqbal (Author), 2015, Japanese Interests to Singapore during Lee Kuan Yew Era, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/302852


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