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Thai PM returns from Tokyo; greeted by critics on arrival

MCOT News, Thailand

Thai PM returns from Tokyo; greeted by critics on arrival

6 April 2007

BANGKOK, April 6 (TNA) - Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont dismissed criticism of his signing the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) as voiced by various sectors in Thailand.

On returning from his controversial four-day journey to Japan, the prime minister met the press conference after landing in Bangkok late Thursday. During the visit, Gen. Surayud and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe jointly signed the pact amid great concern and protests from non-governmental organisations in Thailand, especially over toxic waste disposal and microbiotic patents.

Gen. Surayud dismissed the worries, saying that the Japanese government had yet to submit the pact for ratification by the Diet, Japan’s Parliament. JTEPA might take 3 to 6 months before it is fully implemented.

In the meantime, he said, a special working committee will be set up to seek comments and recommendations from businesspersons and investors in various industries in Thailand.

He also confirmed that JTEPA will boost up trade and investment between the two countries.

Before boarding a Bangkok bound flight, the Gen. Surayud and his wife Khunying Chitravadee were granted an audience with Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Besides signing a free-trade accord with Japan, Gen. Surayud participated in the celebration of 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The prime minister also took opportunity to clarify about political situation and economic issues in Thailand to Japanese investors, businessmen and Members of Parliament.

Gen. Surayud assumed the post after his predecessor Thaksin Shinawatra was overthrown by a military coup on September 19, 2006.