Reliance, friendship nourish Vietnam-Japan relations

08:30 | 31/01/2014 Cooperation

(VEN) - Vietnamese-Japanese relations are developing strongly, particularly in 2013 when the two countries celebrated 40 years of diplomatic relations marking a new page in bilateral ties via a series of economic and cultural exchange events.

The itinerary of the Vietnam-Japan strategic partnership

Vietnam Festival 2013 was launched last September in Japan

Vietnamese and Japanese people established ties more than 400 years ago when Japanese cargo ships berthed in Hoi An in the central region of Vietnam. The Japanese built a bridge across a branch of Thu Bon River in Hoi An, which has since been named by the locals as Japan Bridge.

Despite the long cultural and trade exchange, the two countries only officially established diplomatic relations on September 21, 1973. Vietnamese-Japanese relations have developed strongly and comprehensively, particularly since leaders of the two countries agreed to upgrade the relations to a strategic partnership in 2009 for peace and prosperity in Asia. Japan has become a priority under Vietnam’s diplomatic policy, and vice versa. Vietnam also considers Japan one of its leading cooperative partners.

Japan currently is Vietnam’s second largest export and import partner, following China. While Vietnam has a fairly high trade deficit with other markets like China and the Republic of Korea, the trade between it and Japan is quite balanced. The two countries’ exports and imports complement each other, rather than compete fiercely like other markets. Vietnamese-Japanese bilateral trade increased by an average of 18 percent per year in recent years reaching US$24.7 billion in 2012, an almost 50 percent increase from 2008, including almost US$13 billion in Vietnamese exports and almost US$12 billion in Vietnamese imports.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Foreign Investment Department  said that Japan currently leads foreign countries and territories in terms of investment in Vietnam. By November 2013, Japanese direct investment in Vietnam had amounted to US$34,526 million via 2,103 projects including 1,150 projects in the processing and manufacturing sector accounting for 84.14 percent of all Japanese investment capital.

Japan marked an important milestone on the development path in Vietnam. The Nhat Tan Bridge project is about to finish, following the Japan-funded projects on Can Tho, Bai Chay and Thanh Tri bridges and many other large-scale infrastructure projects. More than 1,600 Japanese businesses, including many big-name groups, have invested or planned to expand their business in Vietnam. Japanese assistance capital has gone to most areas in Vietnam, ranging from healthcare in remote villages to archaeology, education, television and larger sectors like industry, transport and atomic power. Many Japanese investment projects are currently underway.

Regarding Japan’s ODA for developing countries worldwide, Vietnam currently is an important partner both in terms of quantity and quality. Japanese ODA for Vietnam averaged more than US$2 billion per year in recent years and amounted to JPY1,914.9 billion in the last 20 years, contributing to providing a basis for economic growth in Vietnam.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Tanaka Akihiko said that as Japanese ODA for Vietnam had existed for 21 years since 1992 both countries realized that Japanese ODA has not only contributed to socioeconomic development in Vietnam but also helped strengthen the friendship between the two countries. He also said that although Vietnam became an average-income country, Japan’s assistance policy for Vietnam would not change much in the near future affirming that Japan has respected bilateral cooperation with Vietnam.

Solidarity and friendship

Diplomats believed that mutual reliance and comprehensive cooperation were the most valuable assets of the two countries, which have provided an important basis for them to deepen and improve bilateral cooperation.

Increased cultural exchange has deepened the good relations between the two countries. Vietnamese culture has increased its presence in Japan and vice versa. Vietnamese people, particularly the youth, are now familiar with the Japanese cherry blossoms and tea ceremony. The Vietnam Festival 2013 , which was held in September 2013 in Japan, showed Vietnamese cultural identities via handicraft and food booths attracting about 15,000 visitors. Policy and strategy expert Hirotsugu Terado from the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam said that the festival showed the attractiveness of Vietnamese culture in Japan.

Close relations and cultural similarities have helped people in the two countries get closer and better understand each other. Two years ago when Japan faced earthquake and tsunami, Vietnamese people from all walks of life played their part to share difficulties with Japanese people. Although support from Vietnamese people was modest, it showed their true love for Japan. As for Japan, although it has been struggling with natural disasters, it has provided preferential investment assistance for Vietnam to improve infrastructure, healthcare, education and more. This is the result of long solidarity and friendship, rather than mutual benefits. 

After 40 years of relations, Vietnamese-Japanese solidarity, friendship and comprehensive cooperation has been strengthened, renewed and deepened contributing to development in both countries. More than a strategic partnership, Vietnam and Japan have developed special ties and have become close friends./.

By Hoa Le

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