Japan Inc is charging into Myanmar. The rush began one night last October, when Myanmar's new president rolled out a map after dinner to show an aging Japanese power broker a prize that could be Tokyo's to develop - a swathe of land nearly as big as Macau.
Thein Sein, 67, a former general, had been president of Myanmar's civilian government for just six months. He had won cautious praise for reconciling with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and opening Myanmar's economy after five decades of brutal junta rule. Now he was seeking investors to develop Asia's second-poorest country.
After a Chinese-style banquet at the presidential residence in the capital of Naypyitaw, Thein Sein turned to Hideo Watanabe, 78, a Japanese politician with an enduring interest in Myanmar. The new president offered a deal: Japan could develop a special economic zone at Thilawa, a spot near both Myanmar's largest city and a port on the Indian Ocean - if it came up with the money.
"I told him I would figure something out," recalled Watanabe, a former cabinet minister and top aide to ex-Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone.
Watanabe was as good as his word. A fast-track deal negotiated in less than a year has paved the way for Japan to provide at least $18 billion in aid, investment and debt forgiveness from government and private sources.
This Monday, members of the seminal metal band X Japan were in Odaiba rubbing shoulders with the likes of Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga and AKB48′s Yuko Oshima. The catch? They were all made out of wax. (Japan Times )
The parents of a nightclub worker killed in an arson fire three years ago filed a suit in the Nagoya District Court on Monday seeking damages against top members of the Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime group. (Tokyo Reporter )
Kyodo News said Monday that it has dismissed Satoshi Kondo, 51, deputy chief of its general administration bureau and former personnel affairs division chief, for meeting individually with a female student searching for a job and doing an inappropriate act.
(Jiji Press )