Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at the meeting with Vietnamese counterpart Pham Minh Chinh in Tokyo today [November 24] that Japan expects Vietnam to become a development hub in the post-Covid era.
|Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (L) and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Nov 24. Photos: VGP|
Kishida believed that Vietnam, with strong commitments by its government’s head Pham Minh Chinh on improving the investment environment, would facilitate businesses, including Japanese investors.
He said Japan would expand its investment in Vietnam, mainly in digital transformation, diversifying the supply chains, and promoting the implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) (entered into force in Vietnam on January 14, 2019) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) (likely takes effect in January 2022).
In addition, the two countries would boost cooperation in economics, manpower, and science-technology. To do that, Japan will continue supporting Vietnam in infrastructure, human resources, and completing regulatory framework, and improving medical capacity.
The Northeast Asian country would facilitate investors and open doors to Vietnam’s products, mainly farm produce.
Regarding cooperation in the post-pandemic, the two PMs agreed to encourage companies in both countries in the supply chain and fields such as cyber security.
At the meeting, Kishida announced that Japan will donate to Vietnam additional 1.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, totaling 5.6 million. At the same time, he confirmed economic cooperation, saying that “Japanese companies in Vietnam and Vietnamese people working in Japan will play a major role in the revitalization of the post-Covid economies.”
In turn, PM Pham Minh Chinh thanked Japan’s contributing to forging the bilateral relations. He agreed to maintain high-ranking visits; increase cooperation in foreign affairs, security, and defense; and lift the relations to a new height.
Chinh said: “We see each other as our most important and long-term partners and want to raise our bilateral relations to a new horizon.” “I am confident of a bright future for friendship and cooperation between the two countries,” he added.
The two sides issued a joint statement on opening a new stage of the Vietnam-Japan Extensive Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in Asia.
The statement focuses on the development of bilateral relations, cooperation in measures against the new coronavirus infection, strengthening political relations, and cooperation in security, post COVID-19 economic revitalization, human resource development, sustainable development, climate change measures and agriculture, and energy transitions, cooperation for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam, and regional and international issues.
|The Vietnamese delegations at the meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.|
On this occasion, the two sides inked 11 agreements, including that on:
- Mutual legal assistance in criminal matters between Vietnam and Japan
- Loan on water improvement in Ho Chi Minh City and that on maritime search and rescue activities
- Equipment for search and rescue missions
- Joint cooperation plan on climate change towards carbon-neutral goal by 2050
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on land, water resources, meteorology, and geographical information
- MoU on strengthening cooperation in military medicine
- MoU on cyber security cooperation
- MoU between Vietnam’s Ministry of Health and Shinogi Pharmaceutical Company
- MoU between the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)
- MoU on strengthening commercial and industrial cooperation between Vietnam and the Government of Wakayama Prefecture
- MoU on cooperation between the Vietnam Association of Labor Exporters (VAMAS) and the Japan Foreign Human Resources Association.
Vietnam – a key partner in realizing “free and open Indo-Pacific”
At the meeting, Kishida affirmed that Vietnam is a key partner to help Japan realize a free and open Indo-Pacific strategy.
Kishida said that the Government of Japan has positioned Southeast Asia as the cornerstone for the realization of a “free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” and emphasized strengthening relations with Vietnam, which faces the sea lane of the South China Sea.
He expressed “serious concern” over a one-sided attempt to change the status quo of the South China Sea. Kishida confirmed the importance of freedom of navigation and peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Japan attaches great importance to Vietnam as a partner in conducting the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea that Tokyo has pursued for nearly a decade.
Kishida requested cooperation to maintain order based on the rule of law.
Prior to the meeting between the PMs, defense ministers of both countries met on November 23 to accelerate discussions on the export of ships from Japan based on the Defense Equipment and Technology Transfer Agreement signed in September.
The defense ministries also signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the fields of cybersecurity and hygiene. Recognizing that their defense cooperation has “entered a new stage.”
|The Japanese delegation at the meeting was led by Vietnam’s PM Chinh who is the first foreign guest of the Kishida administration since his inauguration in October 2021.|
There has been substantive progress in the extensive strategic partnership between Japan and Vietnam.
The tightened defense relations were obviously shown through the agreement signed in September 2021 during the visit to Hanoi by Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. Of which, Japan’s transfer of defense equipment and technology to Vietnam not only substantially improves defense cooperation between the two countries, but also suggests Japan’s new move to increase its presence in the Indo-Pacific over regional security issues.
Interestingly, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi selected Vietnam as the first destination after taking over as the Defense Minister.
At the September visit to Hanoi, the two countries agreed to deepen defense ties through high-level engagement bilaterally and also strengthen multilateral cooperation.
The agreement inter alia includes intensified consultations for the transfer of defense equipment including vessels, enhanced port calls in Vietnam by Japan Self-Defence Forces (JSDF) vessels and aircraft, and elevation of cooperation in peacekeeping operations.
Additional memorandums had also been signed to facilitate cooperation between the defense authorities of Japan and Vietnam in the fields of cybersecurity and military medicine.
There had been significant statements made in view of serious challenges emerging in the South China Sea. According to Japan’s Defense Ministry statement, the two defense ministers agreed on the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the Indo-Pacific region.