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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           15   August  2011

Fugitive ex-PM Thaksin gets Japanese entry

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Breaking a long-standing policy of not permitting foreigners with criminal records to enter Japan, the Japanese government will allow entry to deposed Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra later this month, Foreign Minister Surapong Towijakchaikul said yesterday.

Mr. Surapong said he was informed that Tokyo had given permission for Thaksin to visit Japan, but he had not yet received confirmation from the Japanese government.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi yesterday said the Japanese embassy confirmed that Tokyo had issued a special permit for Thaksin to enter the country.

However, Mr. Thani said he had no details about the visit date or the type of visa.

Foreign Minister Surapong expressed gratitude to Japan for allowing Thaksin to visit Japan.

"I'm glad former prime minister Thaksin will be able to enter Japan," Kyodo News Agency quoted Mr. Surapong as saying.

"The decision to issue a visa for the former premier is purely at the discretion of the Japanese authorities."

Mr. Surapong on Thursday asked for Japan's cooperation in helping along Thaksin's Japan trip.

Thaksin's supporters say he plans to visit Japan from Aug 22 to 28, during which time he intends to visit areas in Miyagi prefecture in northeastern Japan devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Meanwhile, Mr. Surapong played down concerns over rumours Thaksin would have his diplomatic passport restored.

Mr. Surapong said he would strictly follow related laws and regulations on the matter.

He said his priority was not to return Thaksin's passport but to resume good relations with Thailand's neighbours.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

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.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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