S’poreans love travelling to Japan. How about studying or working there, asks Lawrence Wong

11 months ago 62

TOKYO – Many young Japanese entrepreneurs are using Singapore as a springboard to launch startups, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong cited a financial institution as having told him on Friday.

This was because of Singapore’s “cosmopolitan business environment”, which allows them to very quickly scale up their business ventures into overseas markets.

Speaking to Singapore media at the end of his official visit to Tokyo, Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister, said: “Working on such collaboration among our young people in startups will allow for closer ties between our two countries, and will really help to add a new dimension in our economic cooperation as well.”

He notes that while there is strong mutual interest in travel among the people on both sides – more than 67,000 Singaporeans visited Japan in December 2022 alone, for instance – there is far more that can be done to build up the relationship.

“We start from a good base, but we want the exchanges to go beyond just leisure travel, hopefully there will be more people coming on both sides to study, to work, and to engage in more substantive activities.”

He said that the government will continue to see how it can promote such efforts, such as by encouraging more Singaporeans to spend time studying in Japanese universities whether on exchange or full-time programmes, and vice-versa.

There are frequent exchanges on the political level. This marks Mr Wong’s second trip to Japan in May, following his first to Niigata when Singapore was invited as a guest country at the Group of Seven finance ministers’ meeting.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also had a layover in Singapore on May 5, where he met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over a working lunch.

In a 20-minute meeting on Friday, Mr Wong and Mr Kishida discussed ways to grow bilateral ties on issues of mutual interest such as digitalisation and the green economy.

They also talked about geopolitical developments, while reaffirming the need to maintain an open, inclusive and rules-based regional architecture.

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