Keidanren set to make splash in Myanmar

JIJI

Keidanren, the influential business lobby also known as the Japan Business Federation, plans to send a large-scale mission to Myanmar and Cambodia from Monday through Saturday.

Keidanren hopes to address problems blocking Japanese companies from doing business in Myanmar, including flaws in its legal system, at a time when business opportunities are expected to grow in the slowly democratizing Southeast Asian country.

The U.S. and European countries have lifted restrictions on investment in Myanmar thanks to progress in political reforms since President Thein Sein took office in 2011.

Japan, which recently canceled some of the emerging economy’s outstanding debt, plans to resume soft loans to the country for the first time in 26 years by the end of March.

But Myanmar “has only insufficient ability to accept foreign investment,” a person familiar with Keidanren’s plan said, adding that human resources development is most important.

The mission, led by Keidanren Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura, is expected to put forward a number of proposals for human resources development, including creating scholarship systems and providing job training opportunities here in Japan.

Some 140 people will join the delegation, making it one of Keidanren’s largest ever. Yonekura will be the first Keidanren chairman to ever visit Myanmar.

The participants will include about 20 other senior officers of the business group, including vice chairmen, as well as presidents of some 40 member companies in industries ranging from railways to insurance and nonferrous metals.