The Malaysia – Japan Partnership

National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM) President, Tan Sri Dato’ Soh Thian Lai

Malaysia and Japan share a long-standing diplomatic relationship that began since Malaysia gained its independence. The partnership has been a keystone of economic growth, technological advancement, and cultural exchange in our region. With the Malaysia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (MJEPA) and the “Look East Policy” initiated by then-Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in 1982, which is now in its second phase (LEP 2.0), paved the way for a deep and enduring relationship. This partnership continues to yield significant benefits for both nations. The Malaysia Japan Economic Association (MAJECA) and Japan Malaysia Economic Association (JAMECA) were formed to support the relationship between Malaysia and Japan.

MJEPA, which came into effect in 2006, has facilitated trade and investment between Malaysia and Japan, providing opportunities for businesses on both sides to thrive. It has not only boosted our economic ties but has also fostered innovation and collaboration in various sectors.

The Look East Policy (LEP), on the other hand, has been instrumental in nurturing a strong human capital base in Malaysia by encouraging educational and cultural exchanges with Japan. Malaysia has sent approximately 26,000 students and government officials to Japan to study or train in Japan. The Government of Japan has been providing consistent support to the LEP for 40 years since the introduction of the policy. This policy has contributed to the professional development of many Malaysians and enriched our society.

In terms of trade and economic ties, Japan has consistently held its position as Malaysia’s fourth-largest trading partner since 2022. Our partnership has evolved from primary resource exports, including lumber, rubber, and liquefied natural gas, to encompass value-added products such as furniture and surgical instruments. There has also been increased cooperation in the development of the halal industry in Japan, disaster management, healthcare, smart manufacturing, and SME development. Japan’s expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, autonomous systems, and the Internet of Things (IoT) could strengthen and ensure sustainability of the LEP for many years in the future.

Furthermore, we are delighted to report that, as of the first quarter of 2023, 14 projects with Japanese participation, totaling US$46.99 million within the US$16.19 billion of investments approved by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), are poised to generate employment opportunities for hundreds of people. This demonstrates the continuing dynamism of our economic engagement.

In addition, Malaysia’s mid-2023 Trade and Investment Mission to Tokyo and Osaka yielded promising results, securing potential investments worth $5.23 billion in sectors like carbon capture and storage, electric vehicles, and electrical components. These initiatives signify the deepening of our economic cooperation and the alignment of our nations’ interests in key industries.

Malaysia and Japan share a long-standing diplomatic relationship that began since Malaysia
gain its independence. The partnership has been a keystone of economic growth,
technological advancement and cultural exchange in our region.

Tan Sri Dato’ Soh Thian Lai, National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM) President

Malaysia can gain valuable insights from Japan, particularly in managing its aging population. As Malaysia is projected to achieve the status of an aging nation by 2056, with an estimated 20% of its population aged 65 and above, it faces challenges related to an aging demographic. Japan’s innovative approach, often referred to as Society 5.0, involves actively engaging senior citizens in the labor force, allowing them to contribute to the economy and society. This approach offers valuable lessons for Malaysia in addressing the implications of its aging population and fostering active participation among seniors.

As the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM), we applaud the longstanding Malaysia-Japan partnership. We believe it serves as a model for international cooperation, bringing together two nations with distinct strengths to achieve common goals. We look forward to further strengthening this partnership, exploring new avenues of collaboration, and continuing to benefit from Japan’s expertise and experience.

National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia
Level 3, West Wing, Menara MATRADE
Jalan Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah,
50480 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia

enquiry@nccim.org.my
+603 6204 9811
National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM)
www.nccim.org.my

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