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Eye-opening Japan experience helped a Thai tycoon build an empire

Saha Group's Boonsithi Chokwatana thrives on strong cross-border ties

Boonsithi Chokwatana, chairman of Saha Group, Thailand's leading consumer products conglomerate (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

BANGKOK In 1955, an 18-year-old Thai found himself overwhelmed by the dazzle and bustle of a Japanese city. One minute, he was standing in a sea of neon lights in Shinsaibashi, a busy shopping district in Osaka. The next, he was looking at a subway for the first time in his life.

A decade after its devastating defeat in World War II, Japan was on the cusp of breakneck economic expansion.

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