The news was there on Yomiuri Shinbun on January 5, 2012, but little noticed until someone picked it up and spread on Twitter overnight.
The Japanese government in close collaboration with the big businesses in Japan is to build a city in southern India that will house 50,000 people, with "Japanese-quality" infrastructure including seaside resort, industrial park, hospital, shopping mall, and golf course (of course).
Many on Twitter are speculating that this is part of the plan by the Japan's political and business elites to abandon ship (Japan), and part of the reason for the Noda administration's insistence on the tax hike despite the incipient recession.
While there is a great need for money within Japan to actually rebuild tsunami-devastated areas (not the bogus "decon" projects), the Noda administration has been busy distributing money in Asia. The Bank of Japan has opened multi-billion dollar currency swap lines with India ($15 billion) and South Korea ($70 billion).
From Yomiuri Shinbun (1/5/2012):
The Japanese government, as part of the "infrastructure" export in close cooperation with the private industry, will develop a large-scale township in the suburb of Chennai in southern India.
The plan is to "export" the entire town with an industrial park for mid/small size businesses, shopping centers that are tailored to Japanese taste and hospitals. The town is to accommodate 50,000 people.
This will be first case of urban development as part of the infrastructure export, which is the new growth strategy of the Japanese government.
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano will visit Chennai on January 10, and ask for the support from the Chennai government.
Mizuho Corporate Bank and JGC Corporation will invest 4 billion yen [US$52 million] in the development corporation in Chennai. The industrial park will be 2.3 square kilometer, and the sale will start this summer. The plants that will be housed in the park will start operation in 2013.
The accompanying residential area will be 2 square kilometers. The "resort city" with the expensive condominiums facing the Indian Ocean will be developed starting 2013. Japanese shopping center, golf course, and hospitals with permanently-stationed Japanese doctors will also be built. The plan is to create a high-quality city where Japanese expatriates can live with their families.
The Yomiuri Shinbun makes it sound like it is yet to start. But the talk has been ongoing at least since last summer. Here's the announcement on August 6, 2011 of an Indian tour for people interested in building a community in India where Japanese people live and work in certain large enough numbers.
But the description of this "Japan town" in India - industrial park, resort city with pricey condominiums by the sea, golf course - sounds very familiar to me. Hmmm this is like Singapore.
Well, it turns out that the developer for the whole project is a Singaporean real estate developer Ascendas with large portfolios in China, India, Malaysia, Vietman, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. The countries that this company have businesses with happen to coincide with the countries that the Japanese ministers have frequented since last year.
The Times of India reports on January 11, 2012 the Tamil Nadu government has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Japanese investor group and Ascendas to build a "Japan Town" in Chennai, India:
1,500-acre Japanese township to come up soon on OMR
CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu government has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Japanese consortium and real estate developer Ascendas to build a 1,500-acre integrated township with residential and industrial facilities for Japanese investors. It will come up 50km south of Chennai along Old Mahabalipuram Road.
Chief minister J Jayalalithaa signed the MoU on Tuesday with the Ascendas Development Trust ( AIDT), which has built an IT park in Taramani, and a consortium comprising corporate finance provider Mizuho Corporate Bank and JGC Corporation, a programme management contractor and investment partner.
Ascendas Group president Chong Siak Ching said, "We are happy to have the support of the government of Tamil Nadu and to work with Japan's leading companies Mizuho and JGC." The government has promised collaboration with local government agencies for the project's implementation. The township is expected to have lifestyle amenities for up to 40,000 people," Ascendas officials said. "The infrastructure will be eco-friendly."
I don't know what "eco-friendly" means but I assume it is about low carbon emission. After all, having spewed radioactive materials all over the northern hemisphere the Japanese government and many Japanese are worried about CO2 and anthropogenic "global warming".
I'm not sure how Indians would feel about 50,000 Japanese living in a totally separate community with high-rise condos and golf course, speaking only Japanese.
As to engaging a Singaporean real estate developer, there is a persistent rumor that ex-Chief Cabinet Minister and current Minister of Economy Yukio Edano evacuated his family to Singapore soon after the accident.
Dr. Haruki Madarame of Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission really spoke the truth when he said "It's all about money". It is all about money, whether "it" is a nuclear power plant, a nuclear waste facility, or a Japanese-only city in southern India.