Japan and Viet Nam: Working together for regional sustainable and inclusive development

Update: 15:41 | 13/11/2017
On the occasion of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting to be held from November 10th - 11th, I am delighted to be visiting Viet Nam again. 
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japan and viet nam working together for regional sustainable and inclusive development
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (*)

I place great importance on Japan’s relationship with Viet Nam. Four years ago, I chose Viet Nam as my first trip abroad after assuming my second term as Prime Minister. This year, the first foreign country I visited was also Viet Nam. This will be my fourth visit to Viet Nam as Prime Minister.

This will be my second time participating in APEC held in Viet Nam, after previously attending in Hanoi in 2006. This time, I am looking forward to my first visit to Da Nang, a core city, located in the middle of Viet Nam, which is remarkably developing as a tourist destination.

I am confident that November’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting will achieve great success under the leadership and chairpersonship of President Tran Dai Quang. Viet Nam proposed the well-timed theme “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future”. Japan will make the highest contribution in shaping the future of the Asia Pacific Region.

Free trade and investment has been facilitated in order to make the Asia Pacific Region the growth center of the world. In 1994, APEC set an ambitious target, which was to achieve free and open trade and investment within the region by 2020. Japan will take a firm stance against trade practices which distort markets, and exert leadership in free trade. Proclaimed by APEC, trade and investment liberalization has yielded results.

During the past twenty years, we saw the expansion of potential growth sectors including the service industry and the digital economy. The global economy has dramatically transformed as well. In addressing these new agenda and in order to promote free, open, and fair trade and investment, Japan is determined to lead discussions together with like-minded Viet Nam. Some APEC members took one step further and formulated the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

Japan stresses the importance of the TPP, and Viet Nam’s participation in the TPP is crucial. Japan will tenaciously encourage the United States of the TPP’s strategic significance, and at the same time, Japan will work in close collaboration with Viet Nam to achieve an early entry into force of the TPP-11, by yielding good results at the upcoming APEC Leaders’ Meeting.

japan and viet nam working together for regional sustainable and inclusive development
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Welcome Reception of the 2014 APEC Summit in Beijing, China (*).

Every time I visit Viet Nam, I realize that our bilateral relationship is making further progress. Japan and Viet Nam share many strategic interests and fundamental values. Connected by the free and open sea, Japan and Viet Nam are neighbors, as well as important partners, sharing the concept of the rule of law. I am very pleased to meet with President Tran Dai Quang for the third time, and with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc for the sixth time. In June this year in Tokyo, Prime Minister Phuc and I held a very fruitful summit meeting, and issued the Joint Statement on Deepening the Extended Strategic Partnership. We will endeavor to further broaden and deepen our bilateral relationship, which has already advanced in a wide range of areas, including not only economic but also people-to-people exchanges, as well as maritime security.

For further development of Viet Nam, Japan will continue to extend cooperation vigorously focusing on developing quality infrastructure and human resource development. When I visited Viet Nam in January this year, I arrived at Terminal 2 of Noi Bai International Airport, and later crossed Nhat Tan Bridge. I was impressed by these two new symbols of cooperation between Japan and Viet Nam. By utilizing Japan’s high technology and knowledge, we intend to continue enhancing cooperation with Viet Nam, which will assist in making people’s lives more convenient and comfortable. Established in September 2016, Japan-Viet Nam University represents cooperation in the area of human resources development. When I met with students there, I was moved by their future ambitions. Japan will promote cooperation in human resources development through the recently initiated “Innovative Asia” program, and by providing training opportunities for officials, who are responsible for further advancement of Viet Nam.

Operations by Japanese companies in Viet Nam are significant as well. The number of Japanese companies operating in Viet Nam has doubled since I visited Viet Nam for the first time as Prime Minister in 2006. Including those at Thang Long Industrial Park, various and numerous Japanese companies are now operating across Viet Nam. Japan will work together hand-in-hand with Viet Nam for creating more local jobs, and to facilitate further development of Viet Nam.

During the same period of time, people-to-people exchanges between Japan-Viet Nam have also increased significantly. The number of Vietnamese people studying in Japan is increasing day by day. Last year, the number of Vietnamese Technical Intern Trainees in Japan ranking as the top amounted to approximately 90,000. For instance, Mr. Nguyen Son Ha came to Japan in 2014 as a candidate for medical nurse, and obtained a Japanese national qualification for nurses in 2016. He is currently working actively as a nurse at a hospital in Sodegaura City in Chiba Prefecture. Through the new Technical Intern Training Program, which will come into force in November 2017, we will further strengthen our bilateral relations. The number of Vietnamese students in Japan now exceeds 60,000, including those studying at the National Defense Academy. Japan will continuously cooperate with Viet Nam in maintaining an environment where young people who have studied the Japanese language, culture or technology can envision their future, and may contribute to further development in Viet Nam.

The first visit to Viet Nam by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress this spring was a historic event, which added a new page to our relations. This visit epitomized our very amicable bilateral relationship established through aforementioned broad and firm ties. Their Majesties met with many Vietnamese people in Hanoi, the capital, and in Hue, the ancient capital. The scene, with Their Majesties visiting cultural sights, gained wide publicity and made strong impressions to both of our peoples in Japan and Viet Nam, thereby greatly contributing to a deeper mutual understanding and ties of friendship between our two peoples. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express our appreciation for the nationwide warm welcome extended to Their Majesties by the people of Viet Nam.

Next year, Japan and Viet Nam will celebrate the 45th anniversary of our establishment of diplomatic relations. I will continue making my utmost efforts for the further robust development of our multi-layered bilateral relationship.

(*) Photo provided by the Public Relations Department, Japanese Cabinet - Pool Photo.

Shinzo Abe

Prime Minister of Japan

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