Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc shakes hands with Special Advisor to the Japanese Cabinet Isao Iijima at their meeting in Hanoi on March 23. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Cultural exchange activities play an important role in boosting Vietnam-Japan relations, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told Special Advisor to the Japanese Cabinet Isao Iijima.

During a reception for Iijima in Hanoi on March 23, PM Phuc said he was pleased to meet the Japanese advisor again when the bilateral relations are flourishing with high political trust. Vietnam and Japan have maintained regular high-level meetings and fostered cooperation in all fields, he said.

Japan is currently the biggest provider of ODA, second biggest foreign investor and fourth biggest trade partner of Vietnam, PM Phuc said, noting that in 2017 alone, Japan poured a record amount of 9.11 billion USD in FDI into Vietnam, ranking first among countries and territories investing in the Southeast Asian nation.

The PM expects that Japan will continue taking the lead in terms of FDI from now on, particularly in the areas of supporting industry, manufacturing, renewable energy and hi-tech agriculture.

He spoke highly of Japan’s Sakura Blossom Festival which is being organised in Vietnam to mark the 45th founding anniversary of diplomatic ties, saying such cultural exchange activities play a significant role in enhancing the bilateral relationship.

Iijim said the festival is a significant event, helping to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries. Japan has a sakura association and wants to grow the flowers in many other countries around the world, including Vietnam, he said.

The advisor hoped that there will be more Japanese sakura and Vietnamese apricot blossom festivals to promote cultural exchanges between the two nations, paving the way for expanded cooperation in other fields.

Echoing his guest’s view, PM Phuc said he also wants the sakura blossom festival will continue to be held in Vietnam on a larger scale and looks forward to more cultural festivals which will bring Japanese culture closer to Vietnamese people.

Some 50 sakura trees of different species, above 2.5m high each, and 10,000 branches of sakura blossoms are on display at Ly Thai To Park by Hoan Kiem Lake, downtown Hanoi as part of the 2018 Vietnam-Japan Cultural Exchange Festival.

The festival include various cultural activities, such as the introduction of the Japanese tea culture, chess, Kendama folk games and Japanese cuisine near Hanoi Children’s Palace, besides a Yosakoi dance performance by 17 teams on Dinh Tien Hoang street.

The event, which will run until March 26, will also host various Vietnamese traditional arts such as ca tru(ceremonial singing), hat xam (blind busker’s singing) and folk dances.-VNA