Despite a decrease in FDI attraction, Japanese investors want to inject more investment or increase their involvement in Vietnam through purchasing Vietnamese company shares.

Many Japanese investors have recently sought further information on investment in Vietnam , especially on supporting industry companies, said Phan Huu Thang, Director of the Foreign Investment Research Centre.

“If the trend comes to fruition, it will help Vietnam very much,” Thang said, adding that he will soon lead a group of Japanese businesses to inquire into investment in a southern province.

Hirokazu Yamaoka, Chief Representative of the Japan Trade Promotion Organisation (JETRO) in Vietnam, said more than 500 Japanese companies came to Vietnam to learn about investment information from April, 2010 to March, 2011.

Japanese firms were interested in production of auto and motor spare parts, electric and electronic appliances, machinery components and packaging materials.

At a press conference on the fourth Vietnam-Japan supporting industry exhibition last March, Hirokazu Yamaoka described Vietnam as an attractive destination for production in comparison with other regional countries thanks to its workforce and low costs.

JETRO provided a programme to assist Japanese firms to make direct contact with leaders of 100 major Vietnamese companies for investment information.

Apart from learning about investment information, Japanese companies have recently bought shares of Vietnamese firms. For example, the Asia DI industrial investment fund a joint venture between Dream Incubator Vietnam and Orix Company, bought around 25 percent of shares of the Vietnamese company Nutifood.

Earlier, Japan ’s Nippon Meat Packers and a joint stock company in Long An province cooperated to set up the Nippon Golden Pig joint venture.

Shinichiro Hori, Director General of Dream Incubator Vietnam joint stock company, acknowledged that many Japanese companies wanted to invest in Vietnam , but, he added, it was difficult to encourage a wave of investment from Japan like that in late 1990s, due to woes in Vietnam ’s macro-economy.

He suggested Vietnam do more because the country’s foreign investment attraction is not as competitive as other nations. Low-cost labour is not an advantage for competitiveness, because investors need skilled workers, he said.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Japan had by April 2011 run 1,472 valid FDI projects with a total registered capital of 21.2 billion USD, ranking fourth among 92 countries and territories investing in Vietnam./.