Large Japanese trading companies have their eyes on Southeast Asia’s growth, and the recent disasters in Japan’s Tohoku region may actually spur further investment in countries like Malaysia, says Business Times.

Areas like semiconductor manufacturing, electronics and automotive, traditionally Japan’s strengths, are also huge growth industries in Malaysia. It’s not surprising the Japanese have taken note of this growth and have been active investors in the region in recent years — with their home country’s economic growth crawling at an unexciting pace for some time, they needed to look increasingly offshore for gains. Many companies, still cash-rich, realized their lack of exposure to Southeast Asia was leaving them lagging as competitors from China and South Korea moved in.

Manufacturers have also been set back by the devastating tsunami, power shortages and a series of earthquakes that have shocked eastern Japan over the past month. Continuing measures to save power have also slowed business in Tokyo. Companies are now seeing a need to diversify risk away from Japan altogether, perhaps accelerating investment in Southeast Asian manufacturing.

But it’s not just Japan’s traditionally favorite industries getting attention in Malaysia. There’s now a greater focus on the healthcare and health tourism sector, with Mitsui & Co. Ltd. buying a 30% stake in Malaysian hospital operator Integrated Healthcare Holdings Sdn Bhd for RM3.3 billion (US$1.09 billion). Japan’s Taisho Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. is also looking to buy Hoepharma Holdings Sdn Bhd from a group of investors including Goldis Bhd for RM370 million ($122.3 million).

source & article: Business Times