• Kyodo

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East Japan Railway Co. opened its first cafe overseas in Singapore on Sunday with an eye to setting up more such cafes in Southeast Asia.

The travel-themed Japan Rail Cafe is located on the first floor of the newly completed Tanjong Pagar Centre, the tallest building in the wealthy city-state.

Various light dishes are on offer, such as burgers and beef bowls.

Tetsuhiro Matsuzaki of JR East said Singapore was chosen for the first cafe because it is the most developed and leading country in Southeast Asia.

“Through Japan Rail Cafe, we expect that more people can have greater interest in Japanese culture and sightseeing resources in Japan. We hope more customers can get to know many more new spots in Japan which are not so popular among tourists,” he said.

Makoto Yamataka, general manager of the cafe, said that through the cafe, JR East would like to promote train travel in Japan, especially via the shinkansen high-speed lines that traverse the country.

“If you take the shinkansen, you can get the highest technology, punctuality, the strength of shinkansen,” he said.

JR East set up its Singapore branch office three years ago to prepare to take part in an upcoming tender for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail project, which is also expected to attract fierce bidding from China and other countries.

If the Japan Rail Cafe business is well received in Singapore, “we want to expand this model to other Southeast Asian cities” such as Jakarta, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, in areas where there are bustling train stations, he said.

Japanese travel agency JTB Corp. occupies a corner of the cafe where it has a counter on travel to Japan.

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