Thailand has lost opportunities to turn potential investment projects into reality, largely because of slow government decision-making.
"Investors are not prepared to wait, so they decide to put their investments in other parts of the world instead. It's time for Thailand to wake up and make itself a more attractive investment target; otherwise, it could be left behind by other Asean countries," Yuhei told a forum entitled "International Perceptions of Thailand's Crisis", hosted by the Institute of Security and International Studies.
Speaking at the same event, Judy Benn, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, said American business people were also looking for consistency, not democracy.
As a result, businesses have preferred to invest in countries like China, Russia and Vietnam.
"Despite the coup in 2006, business was as usual. However, when the airports were shut down due to the protests, they came up with some questions regarding unpredictability and uncertainties. For example, would Thailand continue to be open for foreign business?"
Greg Watkins, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, said the Kingdom should consider amending some laws and regulations to create a foreign-investor friendly environment, such as allowing them to own property.
"We believe the political problems have not been solved yet, but it is obvious that whichever shade of politics there are, Thailand will always welcome foreign investment," he said.
The JBIC's Ohmi said Thailand was still listed in the five top destinations for Japanese investment, thanks to its high potential in terms of future economic growth, strong supply-chain infrastructure, cheaper labour costs and its large domestic market.
However, he said Japanese firms complained about the political uncertainty, which
cast doubt over government policy.
A JBIC report on foreign business operations by Japanese manufacturing companies ranked Thailand fifth of promising countries for business operations, behind China, India, Vietnam and Russia.
He said Thailand earlier ranked second or third but had dropped to fifth since the country's political turmoil had intensified.
"Our political concern stays the same. However, we try to cooperate with both the government and the private sector to create a win-win situation," he said.
After undergoing a restructuring last October, the JBIC has shifted its financial support to the manufacturing sector and projects under the Public-Private Partnership scheme, while the Japan International Cooperation Agency has concentrated on government mega-projects.
Japanese investors Nippon and JFE, for example, are interested in pushing forward their mega-investment project for upstream steel smelters in Thailand, said Ohmi.