Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Vietnam from January 16-17 at the invitation of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. It is Abe’s first overseas trip after his election late last year.

Japan remains Vietnam ’s leading economic partner and was the first G7 country to recognise Vietnam as a market economy. It is the largest investor and ODA provider to Vietnam , and Vietnam ’s third biggest trade partner.

Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Yasuaki Tanizaki said that Japan considers Vietnam an important partner in the region.

The diplomat said the visit aims to develop bilateral ties in line with the new situation, adding that it is a basis for the further development of relations between the two countries.

Japan wants to assist Vietnam achieve its 2020 industrialisation target. It will provide ODA and encourage direct investment from Japanese enterprises, Tanizaki added.

The ambassador noted that the two countries will celebrate the 40 th anniversary of diplomatic ties and their Friendship Year in 2013, adding that it will intensify people-to-people exchanges and promote Japanese culture in Vietnam .

Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Doan Xuan Hung said the visit is good news for the two peoples as it will deepen the bilateral strategic partnership.

The visit will propel bilateral cooperation in politics, security, national defence, trade and investment, Hung said.

During the visit, the two leaders are expected to announce the beginning of the Friendship Year and celebrations for the 40 th anniversary of diplomatic ties./. VNA