Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) received his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc in the latter's visit to Japan in 2016 (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – The official visit to Vietnam by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to strengthen political trust and coordination between the two nations.  

The two-day visit, beginning on January 16, was made at the invitation of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. It took place in the context that the Vietnam-Japan extensive strategic partnership has developed comprehensively.

Vietnam and Japan established diplomatic ties in 1973. The two countries upgraded relations to a strategic partnership in 2009, and to an extensive strategic partnership in 2014.

In recent years, high-ranking visits and meetings of the two countries’ senior officials were maintained regularly, many of which took place on the sidelines of regional and international forums.

The two sides set up several dialogue mechanisms including: the Vietnam-Japan Cooperation Committee, the Vietnam-Japan Strategic Partnership Dialogue for foreign affairs – security- defence at the deputy foreign ministerial-level ; the Vietnam-Japan Defence Policy Dialogue at the deputy ministerial-level; the Vietnam-Japan Security Dialogue at the deputy ministerial-level.

They have also supported each other at multilateral forums such as the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Asia-Europe Meeting, among others.

Regarding East Sea-related issues, Japan has highlighted the need to ensure security, safety, and aviation and navigation freedom in the sea. The country has espoused the  view that all disputes in the East Sea should  be solved via peaceful means without using force, in line with international law, and  the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and on the basis of respect for the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea. Japan also urged for the early adoption of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea. 

Japan has become one of Vietnam’s leading economic partners. It was the first G7 member country to recognise Vietnam’s market economy.

The two sides signed an investment agreement in 2004 and the Vietnam-Japan economic partnership agreement in 2007, facilitating economic and trade links between the two nations.

Japan is also supporting Vietnam in developing industries under the Vietnam-Japan cooperation framework.

Japan is now the fourth largest trade partner of Vietnam, with two-way trade hitting  over 28.5  billion USD in 2015 (up 3.3 percent against 2014) and about 26.8 billion USD in the first 11 months of 2016.

The country ranks second among 112 countries and territories worldwide investing in Vietnam, with 3,242 direct investment projects worth over 42 billion USD as of November 20, 2016.

Japan remains the largest provider of official development assistance (ODA) for Vietnam, making up about 30 percent of total ODA committed to the Southeast Asian country. From 1992 to March 31, 2016, Japan committed about 29.5 billion USD for Vietnam. In the 2015 fiscal year, Japan pledged to provide Vietnam with 2.5 billion USD in ODA – the highest amount ever.

In the State visit to Japan by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in 2015, the two sides signed a “Medium and long-term vision on agricultural cooperation”.

Vietnam and Japan also recorded stronger connections in fighting climate change as  Japan has provided ODA for Vietnam’s climate change adaptation projects. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo  Abe stated that Japan will grant non-refundable assistance worth 2.5 million USD to Vietnam to tackle saline intrusion and drought.

In labour cooperation, over 45,000 Vietnamese guest workers and trainees work in Japan, mainly in industry and agriculture. The two sides agreed that Japan will receive Vietnamese health-care givers and nurses to work in the country.

Japan is one of the largest providers of non-refundable aid for Vietnam’s education sector and the two sides inked many cooperation agreements in this field. As of April 2016, nearly 39,000 Vietnamese students studied in Japan. Japan is helping Vietnam train high-quality human resources in sci-technology, management and service, and arranged Japanese-language teaching in high schools in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

In 2016, about 740,592 Japanese tourists visited Vietnam, up 10.3 percent against 2014, while the number of Vietnamese visitors to Japan reached 220,700 in the first 11 months of 2016.

Links between localities of the two countries have been enhanced as well. Many pairs of localities signed cooperation including Ho Chi Minh City-Yokohama; Da Nang- Sakai; Hanoi-Fukuoka; Da Nang- Yokohama; Dong Nai-Hyogo; Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Kawasaki; Phu Tho-Nara, Thua Thien-Hue and Kyoto; Hai Phong- Niigata, among others.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit shows Japan’s respect for bilateral ties and an affirmation that Vietnam considers Japan an important and long-term partner.

Through the visit, the two countries look to foster ties in various fields from trade, investment, ODA, agriculture, education, human resources training, climate change adaptation  to labour, defence, security and cooperation among localities.-VNA