Editor’s note: Ambassador of Japan to Vietnam Fukada Hiroshi sent this written interview article exclusively to VnExpress on the occasion of a visit by Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong to Japan next week.
* What is the significance of General Secretary Trong’s visit to Japan?
At the invitation of the Government of Japan, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is going to pay an Official Visit to Japan from September 15.
Although he has visited Japan four times, including a visit in 2008 as National Assembly Chairman, this will be his first visit to Japan since he assumed the position of Party General Secretary in 2011. It is also for the first time in six years that Party General Secretary visits Japan since then Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh’s visit in 2009.
When President Truong Tan Sang visited Japan in March 2014, Japan and Vietnam elevated the bilateral relations to “the Extensive Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in Asia.” Building upon it, both countries have developed the bilateral relationship in both name and substance and there have been frequent high-level exchanges between the two countries since then.
This year, Mr. Akihiro Ohta, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and Mr. Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries visited Vietnam respectively in January on the inauguration of Noi Bai International Airport Terminal 2 and Nhat Tan Bridge, in which Japan cooperated with Vietnam, and in August to co-chair the 2nd High-Level Dialogue Meeting on Japan-Vietnam Agricultural Cooperation.
From Vietnam, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited Japan in July to attend the 7th Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting, and so did Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh to co-chair the 7th Meeting of Japan-Vietnam Cooperation Committee. Most recently, Deputy Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan visited Japan to attend World Assembly for Women in Tokyo: WAW! 2015. These frequent high-level exchanges took place during such a short period time from the beginning of this year. As a series of high-level exchanges took place strengthening the bilateral relationship in both name and substance, leader-to-leader diplomacy between the two countries will culminate in Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of Vietnam’s independence and foundation, and the 12th Party Congress, which will set the direction of the party and the state, is expected to be held in the beginning of the next year. Thus, it is very significant that Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong visit Japan at this critical moment and he and Prime Minister Abe discuss the way forward of the bilateral relationship, recalling the path that both countries have taken together.
The Japan-Vietnam bilateral relationship has never been better than it is today. I hope that Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong will candidly discuss various matters with Prime Minister Abe, such as politics and security, economy and economic cooperation, and further collaboration in the region and beyond, and that the both leaders will deliver concrete outcomes towards building of the forward looking bilateral relationship.
* How do you foresee the Japan-Vietnam relationship in the future? What is your expectation to Vietnam?
Both Japan and Vietnam have been playing proactive roles for peace, safety and prosperity in Asia and the international society in recent years. This exemplifies “the Extensive Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in Asia” between the two countries. I expect Japan and Vietnam to become the best partner to each other that would promote shared values to the region and the international community based on the sound bilateral relationship, while further strengthening the bilateral relationship.
In the political fields, I expect both countries to play leading roles in discussing and undertaking efforts to address regional and global issues, such as enhancing the rule of law at sea, upholding freedom and safety of navigation and overflight, peace and stability in Korean Peninsula, further collaboration in the international arena including UN PKO, maintaining regional and global peace and stability and UN Security Council reforms.
In the economic fields, I expect Vietnam, in line with the trend of globalization and liberalization of trade through the ASEAN community, TPP and others, to continue its efforts in economic reforms comprising the improvement of trade and investment environment, and the state-owned enterprise reforms. I also wish that Vietnam would promote supporting industries, agro and IT industry, hence achieving self-sustainable development.
Japan has cooperated with Vietnam in its infrastructure, human resource development and others and Japanese companies have operated in Vietnam contributing to its economic development. I hope that Vietnam will continue to effectively utilize Japan’s ODA and to undertake efforts in improving environment to further attract foreign investment from Japanese and other overseas firms, in order to ensure its economy grows on the right track. In the course of these efforts, Japan is willing to further reinforce the mutually complementary economic relationship between the two countries through facilitating their economic connectivity.