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Japanese company to employ thousands

A US$2-billion Japanese precision components company, Minebea Co Ltd, has selected Cambodia as the launching pad for its future growth.

The Kingdom’s improving education system and burgeoning workforce were cited as chief drivers of the decision, a company official said yesterday.

Minebea’s expansion plan includes building a component manufacturing plant estimated to cost ¥5 billion ($60 million) and employ 5,000 people in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, with operations to start next April.

Kumano Yasunari, Minebea corporate communications manager, told The Post yesterday that the company researched for three years, looking at a number of countries in Asia, including Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, before making a decision.

“At the moment it’s a very big problem to find workers, especially in Thailand and China,” Kumano Yasunari said. “So as our future grows we decided to find a new place for production and to build a workforce."

“Finally we decided Cambodia was the best place for the next Minebea.”

He said Cambodians had worked for the company in its Thailand operations and they were impressed with their work ethic.

“We saw Cambodian people were very good at working in our industry,” he said.

Kumano Yasunari said the aim was to have 900 staff employed locally when operations began in April, growing to 5,000 by the end of 2012.

The company already employs about 55,000 people in Asia – the largest hub being Thailand with 35,000.

In a company statement released on Friday, the Tokyo-listed Minebea said it was the first time in 17 years – since setting up its Shanghai plant in 1994 – that it would establish a large-scale production site in a new region.

“The new Cambodian plant will assemble medium and small-sized motors, mainly for office-automation equipment, household electrical appliances and digital equipment, using parts supplied by Minebea plants in Thailand,” the statement said.

Initially it will rent a factory within the PPSEZ, gradually transferring production into its own factory – still to be constructed – by the end of 2012.

“Going forward, the company ... will develop the Cambodian site into a volume production structure second only to its Chinese factory,” the statement said.

Kumano Yasunari said these plans were only the beginning.

“In the future we will expand the factory so we can do other things,” he said, adding that all the component parts were produced in one factory in Thailand but that may also change with the company’s expansion plans.

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