National / Politics

Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad to visit Kyoto with samurai bonds on the agenda

Kyodo

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is set to make a three-day visit to Kyoto beginning Friday, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Bernama news agency separately said the visit will include talks Sunday with Japan Bank for International Cooperation Gov. Tadashi Maeda on the issuance of yen-denominated bonds by Malaysia.

“The request is made by the Japanese side through their embassy in Kuala Lumpur for the governor of JBIC to provide an opportunity to provide detailed background on the possible issuance of the next samurai bond,” Bernama quoted Malaysian Ambassador to Japan Kennedy Jawan as saying.

Mahathir had disclosed last month that Malaysia is considering issuing another yen-denominated bond and Japan has offered a lower interest rate.

In March, Malaysia successfully issued a ¥200 billion bond, the first samurai bond in 30 years and the largest sovereign bond guaranteed by JBIC.

The 10-year bond was priced at the full cost of 0.63 percent per annum.

According to the ministry, Mahathir is scheduled to be conferred an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy by Doshisha University. He will also visit Ritsumeikan Elementary School, which the ministry described as “a leading elementary school in Kyoto with strong emphasis on scientific creativity and Japanese traditional culture.”

Mahathir will also visit two Kyoto-based companies, Shimadzu Corp. and Towa Corp., “to observe the companies’ different business models as well as work ethics adopted by the employees,” and also in a bid to attract investment from Japan to Malaysia.

The visit to Kyoto will be Mahathir’s third to Japan this year.

Mahathir has been instrumental in elevating ties with Japan through his Look East Policy that he initiated during his first turn as prime minister from 1981 to 2003. The policy was aimed at emulating Japan’s work ethic and drawing investment to help drive Malaysia’s efforts to become an industrialized nation.

According to the ministry, Japan was Malaysia’s fourth-largest trading partner in 2018, with bilateral trade amounting to $32.86 billion.