The familiar lyrics of the song “If Only Uncle Ho were Here on the Joyful Day of Victory” have become the focus of talks between Vietnamese reporters and Japanese friends at a Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youth (JENESYS) programme held in Japan late 2009.

Journalist Taniguchi Susumu called himself a man of “Vietnamese fate”, recalling his early research on “French colonialism” in Vietnam and Algeria during his university education.

During his career of over 50 years, the deepest impression left upon the journalist was the coverage of the signing of the Paris peace agreement, ending the war in Vietnam , on January 27, 1973.

“I still remember every small detail of the Paris Conference which was held in the French Capital from May 13, 1968 to 1973 and was running in two stages: bilateral and quartet conferences. After 202 open- and 24 closed-door sessions, the participating parties inked the final agreement on January 27, 1973,” he recalled.

Taniguchi closely followed the event to directly cover it.

Taniguchi was among a large number of Japanese journalists and writers who came to Vietnam to cover the nation’s struggle against the US aggressors. Some of them even lost their lives pursing their stories, contributing to the reputation that the Japanese press provided the most honest coverage of the American war in Vietnam.

The Paris conference held press briefings every week which often drew the keen interest of Japanese journalists, most of whom strongly protested the war, prompting concern from the US administration at the time.

Returning to Vietnam on his second visit in 1997, Taniguchi by chance came across a story by a Japanese writer. Kiyoshi Komatsu wrote about his reunion with President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi in 1945, a quarter a century after their first meeting in Paris where the life and activities of Nguyen Ai Quoc had told the Japanese writer a beautiful story.

Their second meeting stirred up Kiyoshi Komatsu’s passion to write another story about the Great Vietnamese Man.

“I was surprised that President Ho Chi Minh was Nguyen Ai Quoc in 1920,” he confided.

It touched Taniguchi’s heart to read Komatsu’s story, he related in an article published by Yomiuri daily, which has a circulation of millions of copies.

“He (President Ho) deserves our great admiration and respect,” said Taniguchi, who has known President Ho through his research on the Vietnamese land and people and stories written by Komatsu.

“I highly respect and admire your Great Leader. He is extremely famous in the world, leaving behind a number of valuable lessons for young generations. Although I never met the Great Vietnamese Leader, I am deeply impressed by his image. I also love your country and people so much,” he said.

Taniguchi said the Japanese press at present is interested in the socio-economic development of Vietnam, especially after the two countries set up a strategic partnership.

Not only Taniguchi but also many other Japanese friends present at the JENESYS expressed their love for President Ho and for Vietnam in their own ways.

In Sapolo city, Hokkaido province, the Katos--a home-stay family for Vietnamese reporters in the JENESYS programme--showed their love for Vietnam in a special and lovely way.

“It’s wonderfully surprising to find a Japanese family that treats guests with Hanoi and Saigon Beers, Phu Quoc fish sauce and Hoa Sen (lotus) tea,” said a reporter from Hanoi Moi (New Hanoi) newspaper.

The Katos said they love Vietnamese food. Whenever they go to Vietnamese restaurants, they always bring home at least one made-in-Vietnam product after finishing their meals.

Additionally, they have long kept current on news about Vietnam.

“We want to visit Vietnam once to experience what we have read,” they said, citing the Hanoi millennium anniversary late this year a chance to turn their dream into reality.

At our departure, the Katos enthusiastically sang “Bettonam ( Vietnam ), Ho Chi Minh”.

Ms. Kato said the song was the best way for her to imagine a beautiful Vietnam and the beloved Ho Chi Minh./.