Singapore and Japan celebrate relations

The 2006 Japan-Singapore Tourism Exchange Year kicked off this weekend in Tokyo, Japan.It began with the opening of the Singapore Food & Culture Festival at the Shiodome City Centre and Caretta Shiodome, and the official appointment of Dick Lee, Singapore’s multi-talented performer and composer, as the Ambassador for the 2006 Japan-Singapore Tourism Exchange Year at the event. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Japan.

Mr Dayne Lim, Coordinating Regional Director for International Group, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said, “Singapore and Japan enjoy a close relationship fostered through bilateral and economic exchanges. It is therefore apt that we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between both countries this year with the Japan-Singapore Tourism Exchange Year. This will further promote tourism exchanges between both countries, and allow us the opportunity to learn more about each other’s cultures and heritage.”

Said Mr Ted Tan, Acting Chief Executive Officer, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, “The bilateral economic relationship between Singapore and Japan has been growing from strength to strength in the 40 years since diplomatic relations were established. We seek to continue and improve this close relationship. Indeed, we have been encouraging more Singapore-based companies to expand into the Japanese market to offer Japanese consumers more choices in the area of lifestyle products and services especially in the food services, food manufacturing and spa sectors. Given our multi-cultural and contemporary food and spa concepts, our companies would be able to broaden and complement the lifestyle choices available to the increasingly cosmopolitan Japanese consumer.”

Singapore Food and Culture Festival

Jointly organized by the STB and IE Singapore, with support from the Singapore Embassy in Japan, the Singapore Food & Culture Festival will showcase Singapore’s local cuisine as well as our Uniquely Singapore offerings and rich multi-ethnic culture from 8-14 April 2006.

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To reinforce the Singapore brand name in Japan, IE Singapore will be bringing a delegation of ten companies to participate in the Festival. It will showcase the quality products and services of food manufacturing companies - Khong Guan Biscuit Factory, Kwong Cheong Thye, Prima Food (Prima Taste brand) and Sin Hwa Dee; food services company - Kriston Food & Beverage, Tung Lok Group and Ya Kun; and spa companies - Essence Vale, SpaCare International (Aspara brand) and St Gregory Spa.

The Festival will serve as a platform to raise awareness of Singapore’s unique offerings of food and spa in Japan. Housed in catering cars and pre-fabricated units, the companies will be whipping up delicious food items on the spot. Visitors will get to enjoy Singaporean “must-try” local delights like satay, curry puffs, kaya toast, chicken rice, laksa, popiah, garlic roasted chicken, mee siam and more. The spa companies will also be offering their hand, shoulder and foot spa treatments on site.Ê

Currently, Khong Guan Biscuit Factory, Kwong Cheong Thye, Prima Food and Sin Hwa Dee already have food products in Japan, Tung Lok Group has a restaurant operating in Tokyo, while Essence Vale, SpaCare International and St Gregory Spa also have spa outlets in the country. While enhancing the awareness of these brand names already available in Japan, the festival also provides an opportunity for the other companies keen on the Japanese consumer market to showcase their products and services, as well as assess the market demand. For example, this presents a good opportunity for companies like Ya Kun and Kriston to heighten publicity about their products. Ya Kun will be opening its first outlet opening in Japan in October this year, while Kriston will be setting up its presence in Japan by the end of the year.

Bilateral relations between Singapore and Japan

Both Singapore and Japan have been enjoying bilateral relations since the setup of the Japanese Consulate-General in Singapore in 1952. Diplomatic relations were established in April 1966 when the Japanese Consulate General in Singapore was upgraded to the status of an Embassy. Today, collaboration between both countries spans across a myriad of areas including the economic, political, social, health, and cultural aspects.

Japan has been a significant investor in Singapore, with cumulative investments amounting to more than S$35 billion from 1951-2004 . In 2005, Japan is Singapore’s sixth largest trading partner, with bilateral trade at S$52.9 billion, up from 2004’s S$51.8 billion . Singapore is also Japan’s top investor from Asia in 2004, with a total of 56.7 billion yen (&#126S$777 million). Overall, Singapore is Japan’s fifth largest investor after the US, Netherlands, Cayman Islands and the UK, contributing 1.4% of the total investment received by Japan in 2004.

In areas of tourism, Japan is currently Singapore’s fourth largest source market. Last year, close to 600,000 Japanese visitors visited Singapore for business, leisure and education purposes, while some 94,000 Singaporeans visited Japan for similar purposes. Singapore is also the host of the second largest Japanese school in the Asian region.
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