Crisis management experts say Bangkok’s recent bombings do not pose a long-term threat in an otherwise relatively safe country. But they are nonetheless advising Japanese staying in the Southeast Asian city to exercise caution.
“Basically I don’t think Thailand right now is too dangerous,” said Tetsuo Masuda, who heads Japan I-Sis Consulting Co., a Tokyo-based crisis management consultancy. “But I always say this: There is no zero-risk place in the world.”
Thailand started experiencing political turmoil in the second half of 2013. But the country has remained politically stable, with no major risks for violence, since the military regime took over the country in a May 2014 coup.
But Masuda warns it’s hard to tell whether there are clashes of interests and opinions within the military regime, saying “there’s no place in the world as safe as Japan.”
“I think Japanese companies (in Bangkok) were shocked by the bombing,” he said.
The explosion on Monday night struck a commercial center near the Erawan Shrine, an area filled with tourists. It killed at least 20 people and injured 125, including Japanese company employee Kota Ando.
There was a second blast nearby on Tuesday but nobody was injured, according to media reports. No one has claimed responsibility for either blast, but police have been searching for a suspect seen on security camera wearing a yellow shirt.
Bangkok is home to local operations for numerous Japanese manufacturers and retailers. But member companies of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok appear little affected by the blast, an official with the group said Wednesday.
“There seems to be no overly conspicuous reaction on the part of our members, and my impression is they are largely business as usual” according to a survey the chamber conducted on Tuesday, said Nobuyuki Ishii, administrative chief of the grouping of over 1,600 Japanese companies.
As of Tuesday, only activity at offices near the site of the blast was suspended, due to the area being closed off by authorities. Some of these offices were closed in the morning but were operating again Tuesday afternoon, Ishii said.
“Outside of these offices, it seems businesses weren’t affected,” he added.
Kuniyoshi Shirai, a crisis management consultant with Tokyo’s A.C.E. Consulting, said whenever there’s concern about terrorism, employees would be best advised to stay away from crowded places such as train stations, street squares, movie theaters and tourist spots.
Echoing the view by Masuda, Shirai said he does not believe the bombings were perpetrated by a major terrorist group, although he did not deny it was a terrorist act.
“I have a feeling the bombing this time was more like a civil disturbance in nature,” said Shirai, who served as adviser to the production of Fuji TV series “Risuku no Kamisama” (The God of Risk) that depicts how companies face risk.
“The bombings apparently didn’t target Japanese businesses, but if similar occurrences increased in number and grew into widespread violence . . . risk could become more serious,” he said.
“I suspect Japanese companies operating in Thailand and Singapore, which are thought to be safer (than other countries in southeast Asia), may not be as prepared for risks as those operating in Myanmar and Vietnam,” he said.
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