January 4, 2015 7:00 am JST
Direct flights on the horizon

Tokyo to ink aviation agreements with Cambodia, Laos

The Japanese government hopes the agreements will increase visitor traffic from the two countries as well as promote investment and trade.

TOKYO -- The Japanese government is expected to execute bilateral civil air transportation agreements with Cambodia and Laos later this month. Tokyo hopes the agreements will increase visitor traffic from the two countries as well as promote investment and trade.

     The agreements will allow airline operators to set up direct flights between Japan and Laos and between Japan and Cambodia. Once the agreements are finalized, carriers in Japan will be able to operate direct flights to all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

     Only around 4,000 tourists visit Japan annually from each of the two countries, but the numbers are increasing. Tokyo began issuing multiple-entry visas, good for a period of up to three years, to citizens of Cambodia and Laos last November, hoping to capitalize on the two nations' growth potential, seen as the highest among ASEAN members.

     Cambodia and Laos have also been receiving global attention as potential alternative manufacturing bases in Asia should production activities in Thailand, one of biggest manufacturers in the region in the past few years, run into difficulty. The introduction of direct flights to the two countries is expected to further encourage Japanese businesses to set up operations there.

     Currently, roughly 170 Japanese companies have offices or bases in Cambodia, up from about 40 in 2009. Laos, meanwhile, is home to around 120 Japanese businesses, double the number from two years ago.

     The agreements need to be approved at a regular session of Japan's Diet in January before taking effect. Kazuyuki Nakane, parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs, will visit the two countries and sign the agreement in mid-January.

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