Japan continues to support Vietnam’s social infrastructure development, said Japanese Consul-General Ikuo Mizuki in Ho Chi Minh City on December 9.

At a ceremony to mark the 76 th birthday of King Akihito and National Day of Japan (Dec. 23), Ikuo Mizuki said that the relations between Japan and Vietnam have developed in all political, economic, cultural and educational areas.

Mizuki described the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement that came into effect last October and the East-West Highway project that partially opened to traffic in September as vivid manifestations of the close relationship.

The Japanese diplomat also attributed the expansion in bilateral ties to increase in the number of Japanese language learners in Vietnam , Japanese tourists to the country and Japanese people living and working in HCM City .

Japan is among the top five countries with the largest number of tourists to Vietnam and accounted for 10 percent of the total tourists to the southeast Asian nation, said Mizuki. He also said that in 2008, nearly 400 thousand Japanese visitors arrived in Vietnam.

At the function, Vice President of the Vietnam-Japan Friendship Association’s HCM City chapter Nguyen Cong Tanh reviewed important events marking the 35 th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties in 2009.

Tanh expressed his desire to boost exchange programmes and cooperation in education, particularly among the youths and localities, which would play an important channel of the two countries’ friendship.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Japan reached 16.78 billion USD in 2008, exceeding the level of 15 billion USD set for 2010 in the two countries’ plan.

As many as 28 Japanese companies ranked in the Global 500 have invested in 110 projects worth 2.3 billion USD in Vietnam./.