Vietnam visit of Japanese Emperor and Empress to mature Vietnam-Japan relations

05.03.2017

The State-level visit to Vietnam of the Japanese Emperor and Empress takes place when the Vietnam-Japan strategic partnership for mutual benefits of the two nations as well as of peace and prosperity in the region has seen positive developments and comprehensive achievements in politics, economics, defense and security, agriculture, labor, culture, sports and tourism.

The bilateral relations have witnessed a high frequency of exchange of visits between leaders and high-ranking officials of the two countries, between sectors and localities as well as people-to-people exchanges.

This State-level visit to Vietnam by the Japanese Emperor and Empress is viewed as a significant event, serving as a symbol of friendship and marking an important milestone in the history of bilateral relations between Japan and Vietnam.

The visit also demonstrates the Japanese people’s sentiment and care for Vietnam and its people, contributing to strengthening the Japan-Vietnam extensive strategic partnership and promoting mutual understanding between the two nations, meeting aspirations of the two peoples. In fact, the visit of the Japanese Emperor and Empress to Vietnam has been considered by both Japan and Vietnam one of the events that has drawn most attention from the people and political circles of the two countries, showing the close ties and friendship between Japan and Vietnam.

The Japanese Emperor and Empress are the noble icon of the State and the symbol of national unity in Japan. In reality, the Japanese Emperor and Empress make visits only to foreign countries with close relations and friendship with Japan or on the occasion of special international events.

The Japanese Emperor and Empress have expressed their wish to visit Vietnam before. They both have deep sentiments for Vietnam and the Vietnamese people, supporting members of the Royal Family in carrying out exchanges with Vietnamese people. Therefore, the Japanese Emperor and Empress felt moved when receiving the sincere invitation to visit Vietnam from the Vietnamese side.

The Emperor was keen on studying freshwater fish when he was young. In the 1970s, the then crown prince discovered a new species of goby fish (gobiidae) in the world when he was conducting a survey for his PhD dissertation at a branch of the Can Tho river, Vietnam. In 1974, he sent the specimens of his discovered species of goby fish to the Animal Museum of the Hanoi University (now the Biological Museum of the University of Natural Sciences). The specimens of the fish is still on display at the museum.

Japan and Vietnam has a long history of connection and exchange. Clear evidence of the bilateral relations between the two countries is the Japanese quarter in Vietnam, which dates back to the 16th century. Although the bilateral relations have experienced ups and downs in historical periods, the Japan-Vietnam relationship has now enjoyed fruitful results.

To foster the good friendship and mutual trust between the Japanese and Vietnamese, leaders of the two countries exchange visits. And the visit to Vietnam of the Japanese Emperor and Empress holds special significance for the bilateral relations, consolidating the existing good friendship between the two nations.

Relations between Japan and Vietnam have continuously been bolstered and strengthened toward practical and effective outcomes on the basis of mutual strategic benefits of both sides. The two sides have now enjoyed the best-ever relationship, which is demonstrated in high mutual political trust, comprehensive cooperation and economic assistance, and mutual support for each other at regional and international forums.

Regarding economic and trade, Japan is a leading economic partner of Vietnam and the first G7 member country that has recognized Vietnam’s market economy (October 2011). In its foreign policy, Japan considers Vietnam a dynamic economy with much potential for development. As a result, it has defined economic cooperation with Vietnam as an engine for development of bilateral relations. Japan has now been the second largest foreign investor in Vietnam, Vietnam’s fourth largest trade partner and Vietnam’s third largest tourism market.

According to official figures, as of 2016, more than 3,200 Japanese-invested projects still operated in Vietnam with their total registered capital of more than USD 42 billion, representing 15% of the total foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam. Two-way trade in 2016 was valued at nearly USD 30 billion. Especially, Japan has always topped the list of the official development assistance (ODA) providers for Vietnam as its ODA for Vietnam accounts for some 30% of the total ODA value for the country. Additionally, Japanese-invested projects, whose construction phases have been finished, operate effectively, making a considerable contribution to Vietnam’s socio-economic development.

Cultural cooperation and people-to-people exchanges are also underscored by the two sides and growing fast. Learning the Japanese language and culture is now a trend among Vietnamese people, particularly young ones. Meanwhile, unique cultural features, hospitality, friendship and fantastic landscapes of the two countries are attracting an increasing number of both Vietnamese and Japanese tourists. In 2016, about 700,000 Japanese tourists came to Vietnam and 200,000 Vietnamese visited Japan.

Since Vietnam and Japan established their diplomatic relations 44 years, it has been for the first time the Japanese Emperor and Empress have paid a State-level visit to Vietnam. This is universally considered a historical visit as it marks maturity of the relationship between Vietnam and Japan. The visit is also expected to contribute to bringing bilateral relations to a new height.

Source: Talk Vietnam / By the Editorial Board

Photo: File