The Japanese government has approved a 63 billion yen (about 24 billion baht) loan to the Thai government to fund an extension of a BTS skytrain line. The loan will finance the construction of the red line, which will start in Rangsit in Pathum Thani province and pass through Bang Seu and Hua Lumpong in Bangkok to Mahachai in Samut Sakhon province. The Thai Prime Minister is on a three-day official visit to Japan to boost Japanese investors' confidence in the Thai economy and to strengthen trade ties between the two countries. The Japanese premier has expressed his wish to see countries in ASEAN work together through the global economic downturn.
A third issue of The Economist magazine has be banned in Thailand in the space of 2 months. This came hot on the heels of the ban of the previous edition which contained an article about the jailed Australian writer and the kingdom's strict lese majeste law.  The January 31 issue features an article titled "A Sad Slide Backwards," which criticizes the Thai army's alleged mishandling of hundreds of Rohingya refugees, and the army-backed government's reluctance to investigate the matter fully. The article claims that the same army colonel behind the refugee abuse allegations was also responsible for the torture of Muslim detainees in Thailand's strife-torn southern region. The plight of the refugees who claimed they were left adrift in the sea with inadequate supplies by the Thai military has gained much international attention. However, it has received little interest from the local media, which tends to focus more on the mounting political tension.

 The distributor of the UK-based current affairs magazine The Economist has pulled all copies of the magazine's latest edition off the shelves in Thailand. This is the second time in two months that the magazine has been banned in the kingdom for fear of lese majeste charges.  The latest issue contains an article about the Australian writer who was recently sentenced to a 3-year imprisonment for briefly referring to an unnamed crown prince in his little known novel. Shortly after being sworn in, the Thai government led by the Democrat party declared protecting the monarchy as its top priority.  As a result, thousands of Web sites insulting the Thai royal family have been blocked, while several people, including a prominent university professor, are awaiting trial for allegedly insulting the monarchy.