As of September this year, Japan ran over 2,400 investment projects worth 36.3 billion USD in Vietnam , according to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The figures are likely to surge in the coming time as Japanese businesses, especially small-and medium-sized (SME) ones, hope to boost investment in the Southeast Asian nation.

Latest statistics of the Japan External Trade Promotion Organisation (JETRO) showed that up to 30 percent of Japanese firms investing abroad regarded Vietnam as the prime destination.

Vietnam surpassed her biggest rivals in the region, namely Indonesia , Thailand and the Philippines , to become the leading trade partner of Japan, the organisation’s February report announced.

According to JETRO, up to 70 percent of Japanese businesses in Vietnam planned to expand operation till the year’s end.

Deputy Director of the Vietnam-Japan International Joint Stock Company Nguyen Van Tau cited the fact that from April 2011 to January 2012, the JETRO office in Ho Chi Minh City welcomed around 2,400 Japanese investors seeking partnership opportunities.

Chairman of the Vietnam Business Association in Japan Dinh Ngoc Hai said Vietnam boasts political stability, long-standing relations with Japan , and an important role in ASEAN. Japan could expand its market in the bloc and seek other partners in the region through Vietnam to prepare for the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement.

However, one of the problems facing Japanese SMEs is the lack of market and investment environment information, said President of the Noshiro Shigen waste-treatment company Seiji Satoh.

The view was echoed by CEO of the Sanno Housing Yasuaki Hata, who also clarified the needed information pertaining to law, tax, and business conditions.

He said the Vietnamese investment environment has been gradually improved; however, complicated administrative procedures remain the biggest obstacle.

He suggested the Vietnamese Government come up with solutions to simplify formalities.

Former Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Nguyen Phu Binh said Japanese SMEs did not have many opportunities to study investment opportunities in Vietnam; hence, authorities need to hold more forums for the two business communities to forge links.-VNA