Japan and Thailand established diplomatic relations 136 years ago, paving the way for today's close and enduring bilateral relationship, spanning a wide range of fields.
To bring our countries' "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership" to the next level, I informed Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, in our recent bilateral meeting, that our countries' public and private sectors partner, as "Team Japan", is ready to work closely with his new administration.
The ties between Japan and Thailand cut deeply across many sectors. Currently, approximately 6,000 Japanese companies are operating in Thailand. Japan tops the cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) ranking for Thailand over the last 40 years, with its FDI totalling about 3.5 trillion baht, accounting for about 40% of total FDI in the country over the same period.
Japanese companies, especially in the automotive and manufacturing sectors, with the efforts of the Thai people, have contributed materially toward Thailand's remarkable economic development. We are pleased to see that, today, not only large, small and medium-sized companies, but also start-ups with cutting-edge technologies from Japan, are highly interested in investing in Thailand.
Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) has also played a vital role in developing Thailand's infrastructure over time. Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand's international gateway, railways such as the Blue, Purple, and Red lines in Bangkok and the Phra Pinklao Bridge and Rama IX Bridge on the Chao Phraya River were all constructed with Japanese ODA.
Japan remains the top economic development partner to Thailand, extending a cumulative US$25 billion dollars to date in economic development assistance.
Looking forward, I believe that Japan and Thailand will build together a new path forward as "Co-creation Partners". Leveraging on the foundations of our amicable relationship built across decades in various fields, I am hopeful that we will generate tremendous synergies in areas such as green industry, AI-driven agriculture and electrical vehicles.
The success of our partnership can already be seen in human capacity development for the industrial sector. Our introduction of the Kosen engineering education system to Thailand in 2019 has already borne fruit, with several students achieving excellent results in competitions, with the first group of students set to graduate next year.
Tourism between the two countries is also back to pre-Covid levels. The number of Thai tourists travelling to Japan's rural provinces is increasing, leading to increased cooperation between Japan and Thailand in the tourism sector.
Through various events such as the Nippon HAKU, Japan Expo, Study in Japan Fair, and Travel to Japan Fair, we hope to see greater interaction between the two countries, especially among the younger generation.
Finally, this year marks an important milestone -- the 50th anniversary of Asean-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. The Asean-Japan relationship was upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership this September on the basis of our wide-ranging cooperation and partnership built over many decades.
We intend to further build on our longstanding cooperation in connectivity and economic development within the Asean region to come up with concrete steps to further strengthen our partnership. We plan to host the Asean-Japan Special Summit in Tokyo in December, where we hope to demonstrate to the world that, Japan, as one of the most reliable partners for Asean, can help build together a new era of creating a sustainable and prosperous future for the world, in particular in the Indo-Pacific region.
I look forward to further developing Asean-Japan relations in collaboration with Prime Minister Srettha and his administration.
Nashida Kazuya is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Kingdom of Thailand.