Gold rush: Japan Inc. flocks to Myanmar
An eyewitness report on the rapid changes engulfing the country and the prospects for further democratizationThe visa section at the Myanmar Embassy in Tokyo used to be a quiet and lonely place, but not anymore. Pointing to boxes containing hundreds of Japanese passports bearing business visas, the staff there told me the deluge began in early 2012.
ANA now has all-business-class direct flights to Yangon from Tokyo, and is operating near full capacity. The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) office in Yangon reports being swamped by requests for assistance by Japanese firms looking to cash in on Asia’s most promising frontier. PR giant Dentsu is opening an office there this week. I even met a young Japanese nail artist in Yangon who thought she would try her luck in Asia’s latest boomtown.
Until a couple of years ago there were few vehicles on Yangon’s streets, and hotel rooms went begging. The new normal, though, is traffic jams, packed hotels and spiking rental rates for housing and offices.
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