T HE OWNER of the International Youth Club has flown into Phnom Penh with leading Japanese investors and announced new plans to build a $2 million dollar business complex at the sports center.
Junichi Murayama bought the former Cercle Sportif for $5 million in 1992, and renovated the establishment into a sports center with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a weights room.
Speaking on behalf of Murayama the General Manager of the International Youth Club Norimitsu Ijichi said: "Mr Murayama would like to build a Business Center comprising office space and residential units which would then be sold to businessmen.
"The Center would be an eight-story complex built behind the tennis courts. We would have to get rid of three tennis courts."
Ijichi said it would cost $2 to $3 million to cover the building costs and the purpose of Murayama's trip to Phnom Penh was in part to attract the funds from Japanese businessman for the new investment.
Murayama flew into Phnom Penh on Aug 14 with Katsuhiko Ishii, president of the real estate company Sanki Co, and Y.Goto, a certified public accountant.
Ishii, a potential investor in the center, said he would be returning to Cambodia in October and it was highly likely that he would then give the go-ahead for his money to be used to build the new business complex.
He said it would then take about six months for construction work to commence, and Ijichi expects the project to take a further 12 months to complete.
Ijichi added that there are also plans afoot to investigate building a golf driving-range and possibly a nine-hole golf course, if a suitable location can be found.
Murayama is hoping to attract Japanese businessmen to the Center. His General manager said: "The greatest concern at the moment is about political stability.
"People in Japan do not consider Cambodia as a good place to invest for Japanese companies. Cambodia is designated as a dangerous zone and tourists are discouraged from visiting the country."
Goto is acting as a consultant to various Japanese companies interested in investing in Cambodia. Asked whether he would advise his clients to invest, he replied : "Maybe in December, [we will have] big happy news."
Ishii also wants to do some bridge-building' between the two countries. He said : "I have come on a fact-finding mission for Nihon University to find out about education facilities in Cambodia. I want to study the situation of the education system."
Ishii has an economics degree from Nihon University which is one of Japan's largest privately-run universities.
Both Ishii and Goto are first time visitors from Japan. Together with Murayama they spent four busy days in the country being briefed about the new investment law and tourism investment opportunities in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
Murayama has indicated that if the political situation were better he would invest elsewhere in the Kingdom.
Murayama started a company from scratch fifteen years ago which imported tea from China. The 41-year-old businessman next went into real estate deals in Hong Kong and now partly owns an industrial zone in China's Guangdong Province.
A police guard of honor welcomed the Japanese investors as they drove into the International Youth Club on Aug 14 with the announcement of the new investment plans.
Over 150 police officers stood to attention under the watchful eye of the general of the Phnom Penh police who then proceeded to introduce the Japanese visitors to his men.
During the four day visit the businessmen met Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Sirivudh; Chap Nharivoud, Vice-governor of Phnom Penh; Truong Mealy, Ambassador to Japan; Truon Chenda Sophea Sok, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism; Tep Darong, Adviser to the ministry in charge of the office of the Council of Ministers; the Governor of Siem Reap and Commander of the fourth region, General Toan Chay and Suos Tek Ngeap, and economic and financial adviser to the government.