Tokyo (VNA) – Director General of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department Takizaki Shigeki has lauded the solid development of Vietnam – Japan ties over the past 45 years.

During an interview granted to Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations, Shigeki said the Vietnam visit by Japanese Emperor and Empress last year and the Japan visit by President Tran Dai Quang have proved that bilateral ties have thrived at the highest level so far.

People-to-people exchange has become diverse with the growth of Vietnamese community in Japan, amounting to over 260,000 people. The number of Japanese people living in Vietnam and Japanese firms keen on Vietnamese market also increases, he said, adding that tourist arrivals between the two countries surpass 1 million each year.

Shigeki said that Japan wants to partner with Vietnam in the process of shifting from a middle-income to upper middle-income country. He suggested that both nations could cooperate in infrastructure development and personnel training.

As Japan is facing serious shortage of workers due to low birth rate that leads to aging population, Japan welcomes Vietnamese youths to study and work in the country, he said, adding that Japan wishes to partner with Vietnam in workforce supply.

On regional and global aspects, Shigeki highlighted the importance of working closely together on nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the East Sea issue, terrorism and natural disaster response.

He affirmed that Vietnam plays an important role in promoting connectivity between Southeast Asia and South Asia, firstly within Mekong region and then with Myanmar, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He believed that Vietnam – Japan collaboration in economic activities in the region will yield fruits, affirming that Japan highly values Vietnam’s role in the Free and Open Indo– Pacific Strategy.

Regarding the East Sea issue, Shigeki said the East Sea holds significance to Japan as 80 percent of oil imported by Japan and many of its exports pass through the waters.

Japan supports and stands ready to cooperate with Vietnam, ASEAN member states, and countries concerned, including China, in the settlement of disputes via peaceful means in line with law, he said.-VNA