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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    18 June 2012

Japanese top in making Malaysia second home


The Japanese have overtaken Iranians in making Malaysia their second home, snapping up properties in the Klang Valley and other urban areas.

According to the Malaysia My Second Home Centre, Japan has been the top participating country since last year, when the country was hit by a tsunami and a nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

Malaysia's political stability and economic growth are said to be a big draw.

MM2H statistics showed that the number of Japanese applying to participate in the programme doubled from 195 in 2010 to 423 last year. A total of 787

Japanese applications were approved from 2009 to last year.

The Chinese jumped to second place last year, with 405 applications approved.

The Iranians, who topped the list from 2008 to 2010, dropped to third place last year and fourth this year, below the Bangladeshis.

As of March, 18,090 foreigners have successfully applied to participate in MM2H.

The rise in Japanese applicants followed the announcement of Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen in late 2010 that Japanese senior citizens were welcome to make Malaysia their second home.

She had said the number of Japanese aged 65 and above was increasing, and living in Malaysia was ideal due to its strategic location, advances in medicine and cheaper living costs.

Real Estate and Housing Developers Association president Michael Yam said Malaysia, as part of its Look East policy in the past few decades, had focused on making living here convenient and comfortable for the Japanese.

This, he said, included the setting up of a Japanese School in Kuala Lumpur in 1966.

The school is the fifth oldest Japanese school overseas, with spacious premises that include a kindergarten and primary and secondary schools.

Such initiatives had helped to build a cordial relationship between the two countries, Yam said, adding that there were many Japanese investors in Malaysia today.

“These people used to work in Malaysia. When they went back, they probably thought that this is not a bad place to have a second home, especially since it is one of the cheapest places to live in,” Yam said.

He noted that Malaysian condominiums now incorporated a “sprawling lifestyle complex” approach, which includes amenities such as big swimming pools and tennis courts.

“You get good value for money, which you don't necessarily get in other countries, which are more densely packed,” he said, adding that Mont Kiara, which is popular among expatriates, was one of the biggest Japanese enclaves in the country.

According to the Japanese Embassy, the earthquake and tsunami which happened in March last year were another “push factor”.

Japanese Ambassador Shigeru Nakamura said there were about 1,000 couples who have made Malaysia their second home.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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