Despite difficulty, Japan has maintained ODA provision for Vietnam
Vietnam and Japan established diplomatic ties on September 21, 1973. They have since maintained the exchange of high-level visits to increase bilateral cooperation. Notably, during a visit to Hanoi in October 2010 by the then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Vietnam and Japan signed a joint statement on comprehensive development of the strategic partnership for peace and prosperity in Asia which includes the implementation of key economic cooperation projects.
Earlier in May 2007, the two countries established a Vietnam-Japan Joint Commission for Cooperation co-chaired by the two Foreign Ministers.
Currently, Japan is Vietnam’s third largest trading partner. 2010 marked an impressive recovery of bilateral trade, hitting more than US$16 billion, a year-on-year increase of 22 percent. By September 2011, two-way trade fetched approximately US$15 billion, including US$7.5 billion from Vietnamese exports.
Vietnam exports to Japan seafood, garment, crude oil, electric cable, coal and wood products, and imports computers, electronics and spare parts, steel, cloth, automobile spare parts and materials for the textile and leather tanning industries.
In June 2008, both sides began to work on the third phase of the Vietnam-Japan Initiative aimed at improving Vietnam’s investment environment and its competitive edge, supporting the Development Triangle and cooperation in the East-West Corridor and the Greater Mekong Sub-region, as well as addressing traffic congestion in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They have already completed the third phase and just launched the fourth phase focusing on 70 areas.
By August 2011, Japan had 1,572 operational projects in Vietnam capitalised at US$21.8 billion, ranking fourth amongst foreign investors in the country.
Japan is one of Vietnam’s largest donors of official development assistance (ODA). In December 2010, Japan pledged US$1.76 billion in its 2010 fiscal year to support Vietnam’s infrastructure development, climate change adaptation and poverty reduction efforts. Despite domestic economic difficulty, Japan has confirmed that it will maintain ODA provision for Vietnam.
Japan is among the five countries that have the largest numbers of visitors to Vietnam. Japanese visitors make up nearly 10 percent of total foreign arrivals to Vietnam. More than 442,000 Japanese visited the Southeast Asian nation last year and the figure was 344,000 in January-September 2011.
Japan has developed projects to help Vietnam preserve and restore ancient houses across the country. The two countries have sent delegations for art exchange programmes, and participated in their exhibitions, film festivals and other cultural events. A Japanese cultural exchange centre in Vietnam was established in March 2008 to increase cultural exchanges and cooperation. Japan is also one of the largest non-refundable aid donors for Vietnam in education and training.
During Mr Dung’s visit, at the invitation of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, both sides will discuss a wide range of measures to further promote cooperation in politics, diplomacy, security, national defence, economics, investment, trade, ODA, tourism, guest workers, culture and education. They will also seek ways to speed up the implementation of strategic-level economic cooperation projects.