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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     14  October  2011                    

Japanese ask for accurate weather information

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While foreign direct investment remains intact, Japan's Toshiba says it is critical for the government to provide more accurate flood information and implement long-term prevention measures.

At Pathum Thani's Bangkadi Industrial Park, one of Toshiba's largest production centres in Asean, factories making semiconductors, lighting, fluorescent lamps and home appliances shut down on Tuesday for at least five days.

The suspension is due mainly to a shortage of raw materials. Employees have been deployed for flood-prevention efforts at the factories and the 24-year-old industrial estate itself. Bangkadi is one of eight industrial estates warned on Wednesday by Industry Minister Wannarat Channukul that they are in danger of being flooded.

The others are Bang Chan and Lat Krabang industrial estates in Bangkok, Bang Phli and Bang Pu in Samut Prakan, Kaeng Khoi in Saraburi, Hi-Tech in Ayutthaya and Navanakorn in Pathum Thani.

"So far nothing has changed regarding Toshiba's investment in Thailand, but this situation must not happen again," said Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, chairwoman of Toshiba Thailand.

"The government has to understand that after the floodwaters recede, it must immediately implement flood prevention measures. It does not matter how much it costs, this must be done."

She said the widespread flooding has resulted in unprecedented manufacturing disruptions, and it will take factories a long time to recover.

"We'll have to reinvest in our factories and recoup lost business opportunities. Buyers could opt for products from elsewhere and never come back," said Ms. Kobkarn, who is also the president of the Thai-Japanese Association.

She said one of Thailand's weaknesses is the dissemination of inaccurate and even contradictory information by different government agencies.

Yasuo Ashizawa, the president of Toshiba Semiconductor (Thailand), said his company was suffering a shortage of raw materials, as vendors at the Saha Rattananakorn and Hi-Tech industrial estates in Ayutthaya have been socked by the flooding.

One of the world's top three semiconductor makers, Toshiba produces a billion pieces a month at Bangkadi Industrial Park in Pathum Thani, where it employs 1,600 workers.

"The Japanese government has been very active in providing information on several occasions including the tsunami," said Mr. Ashizawa.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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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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