The upcoming visit to Thailand on 25-27 June 2012 by Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan as guest of the Thai government will help strengthen longstanding Thai-Japanese relations.
During his three-day official visit, Crown Prince Naruhito will be granted an audience with His Majesty the King and meet Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. He will also give an audience to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
On this occasion, he will visit historical sites in Ayutthaya province and give an audience to Japanese residents living in Thailand. This is his fourth visit to Thailand; his previous trips were in 1980, 1987, and 1994.
In 2012, Thailand and Japan celebrate the 125th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The relationships between Thailand and Japan date back to 26 September 1887, when both countries signed the Declaration of Amity and Commerce.
The Imperial Family of Japan and the Royal Family of Thailand have been maintaining a long cordial relationship. Their Majesties the King and Queen visited Japan in 1963. After their enthronement, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko paid a visit to Thailand in 1991, and later they visited Thailand again in 2006 to join the 60th anniversary celebrations of His Majesty the King's accession to the throne.
After assuming her office, Prime Minister Yingluck visited Japan twice; the first one to pay an official visit in March 2012 and the second one to join the 4th Mekong-Japan Summit, held in Tokyo on April 20-22.
Regarding economic relations, both Thailand and Japan have signed several economic cooperation agreements. The most significant one is the Thai-Japanese free trade agreement, the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement, known in short as JTEPA, which was signed in April 2007 and came into force in November the same year.
The Board of Investment (BOI) cited Japan as the largest group of investors in Thailand. In 2011, Japanese investments in Thailand were valued at 159 billion baht. The two-way trade amounted to 66 billion US dollars, an increase of 13.7 percent over 2010. There are currently 7,000 Japanese companies operating in Thailand mainly involved in automobile and electronics industries.
In the area of tourism, more than one million Japanese tourists visit Thailand each year. Among the largest groups of international visitors to Thailand, Japan comes third, after Malaysia and China.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul stated that Japan had relaxed its visa issuance regulations by allowing Thai nationals to have multiple entry visas during their visit to Japan for tourism and business. The new regulations took effect on 1 June 2012.