The construction of the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line, a cooperation project between Vietnam and Japan (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – Ho Chi Minh City has bolstered its cooperative ties with Japan on the foundation of the thriving Vietnam-Japan relations over the past 45 years since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1973.

At present, more than 1,100 Japanese firms with total registered capital of nearly 4 billion USD, are doing business in the city, the greatest economic hub in southern Vietnam. They mainly operate in processing-manufacturing, and infrastructure construction.

Japan is the third largest trade partner of HCM City, with bilateral trade turnover surpassing 5 billion USD in 2017.

The East Asian country is also the fifth largest source market of HCM City’s tourism sector.

Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Le Thanh Liem appreciated Japanese firms for introducing modern technology to Vietnam, training skilled workers and technicians and generating jobs for local workers, thus contributing to the city’s industrialisation and modernisation cause.

In addition, HCM City has benefited greatly from Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). Japan’s ODA provides important funding for the city’s major infrastructure projects such as the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line, and the water environmental improvement scheme.

Ties between the city and Japanese localities have also been expanded, with the city signing friendship agreements with seven prefectures and cities of Japan, which are Aichi, Hyogo, Osaka, Shiga, Nagano prefectures and Yokohama and Osaka cities.

In the first eight months of this year alone, HCM City welcomed nearly 30 delegations of Japanese officials, and the municipal officials also made three trips to Japan.

The partnership between HCM City and Japanese localities focused on areas of mutual interest such as water resource and environment management, and investment promotion, alongside cultural exchange and educational collaboration.

Last year witnessed the HCM City Days event in Osaka, and several Japan-Vietnam festivals in HCM City. This year, the city has joined hands with Japanese partners to hold a Vietnam Festival in Aichi under the theme of “HCM City – Integration and Development, and the Feel Japan Festival and the Japan Festival “Holding Hands Tightly” in HCM City.

During their meetings, officials of both HCM City and Japanese localities shared the view that there is still great potential for the two sides to expand their partnership, particularly in trade, investment, education and health care.

The city has recently signed several deals with Japanese localities, including one on training and supply caregivers with Yokohama city, and trade and investment promotion programmes with Aichi, Osaka and Saitama prefectures.

According to city officials, the stable increase in the number of Japanese companies investing and doing business in HCM City over the past years reflects their real interest in the city as well as the city’s appeal.

HCM City is embarking on seven breakthrough programmes towards turning itself into a smart city, which will open up new opportunities for cooperation between the city and Japan, especially in fields Japanese companies are strong such as support industry, high-tech production and human resources training.

Japan’s Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Kawaue Junichi said as the biggest metropolis in Vietnam, HCM City plays a key role in expanding cooperation between Japan and Vietnam, as well as in implementing joint programmes to enhance mutual understanding and solidarity.

In fact, as the most populous city and a leader in multi-lateral external relations, HCM City is the place of choice for exchange activities between Vietnam and Japan, from cultural events to youth exchanges and friendship sport games. The HCM City Union of Friendship Organisations (HUFO) and the municipal Vietnam-Japan Friendship Association have played the central role in organising such activities, contributing to tightening the relationship between the city and the Japanese people.-VNA