chapter  7
Reshaping the international division of labour: Japanese manufacturing investment in South-East Asia
Japanese manufacturing investment in South- East Asia
ByTessa Morris-Suzuki
Pages 19

In the early 1970s the presence of Japanese multinationals in SouthEast Asia1 was an issue which excited intense political passions. During Prime Minister Tanaka’s 1974 tour of the region, students condemning Japan’s growing economic presence attacked Japanese-owned offices in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Several demonstrators were killed and Japanese enterprises were forced to give serious thought to the impact of their economic activities overseas. Since the 1970s, on the other hand, some of the fire seems to have gone out of debates on the role of the Japanese multinational in South-East Asia. To an extent, perhaps, familiarity breeds indifference. Advertisements for Suzuki motorcycles, Nissan cars, and Sony video recorders are now an accepted part of the South-East Asian urban landscape. The interest of the international media has tended to move towards the more controversial expansion of Japanese manufacturing, financial, and real estate investment in North America and Western Europe. Meanwhile, rapid industrialization in many South-East Asian countries has led to the emergence of a growing number of local competitors to Japanese manufacturing multinationals, so diminishing the once powerful sense of Japanese industrial dominance.