More Japan firms venture here
IF YOU'VE noticed more Japanese apparel and merchandise in malls here, or spied more logos of famous Japanese game makers, you're not imagining things.
More Japanese companies are setting up shop here.
They include boutique JRunway, which opened last November at Plaza Singapura. The store is said to be the first Japanese multi-label boutique in South-east Asia, and is a joint venture between Japanese retailer Apparel Web and home-grown streetwear chain 77th Street.
Other Japanese stores here are also expanding - Uniqlo will open two more stores on Friday, at Jem in Jurong East and Suntec City. Last Saturday, Muji and Kinokuniya opened new outlets at Jem.
On the games front, Tekken maker Namco Bandai established a studio here in March, and Metal Gear developer Konami established a presence here last August. Mobile- and social-game maker Gumi founded a studio here in April last year.
Japanese companies coming to Singapore are becoming a trend.
The Singapore office of the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) has advisers for Japanese companies here or seeking to come here. In 2010, each adviser handled an average of 523 cases. That number grew to 735 in 2011, and 784 last year.
Jetro is a Japanese government-related organisation that promotes trade and investment.
The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry here, which helps Singapore companies connect with Japanese firms, said it had 61 new members last year, up from 40 in 2011.
Mr Lim Swee Nian, assistant managing director of Singapore's Economic Development Board, said that Japan is Singapore's top Asian investor, with a cumulative direct investment of $52 billion as of 2011.
"Japanese companies find Singapore an attractive location for investments as it provides them a business-friendly location that enable them to orchestrate and oversee their business growth in the region."
A spokesman for the Embassy of Japan said many Japanese firms come here to tap on the "rapid growth of Asean".
For some Japanese firms, venturing here has opened up avenues.
Mr Shunsuke Sato, chief executive of retail firm Satisfaction Guaranteed, which moved its headquarters here in June 2010, said: "We would not have been able to meet as many interesting people or come across more business opportunities if we had stayed in Japan."
The Singapore Government is also playing a role in attracting Japanese firms.
Mr J. L. Tan, director of Ginza Farm Pan Asia, said the Government is "encouraging" Japanese firms to bring their latest technology here to improve agriculture.
The agriculture research-and-development firm rented a Lim Chu Kang site last month.
Namco Bandai said in a media statement in April that the Singapore Government "is trying to invite media-related companies" to the One North area.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JACQUELINE WOO