Just last week, as Vietnam’s President Vo Van Thuong was in Japan to mark a historic moment in our nation’s relations, I, too, found myself in Tokyo. My visit coincided with this landmark event, offering a unique vantage point to witness firsthand the deepening ties between Vietnam and Japan – a relationship that goes far beyond official agreements.
In a bustling Tokyo bar, we hosted a Vietcetera reader meet-up. There, I listened to stories from Vietnamese individuals who have called Japan home for decades. Their narratives painted a vivid picture of lives intertwined with the Japanese culture, professional landscapes, and a shared spirit of perseverance and ambition. These personal journeys exemplify the people-to-people connections that form the backbone of our bilateral relations, adding a human dimension to the diplomatic ties strengthened by the recent upgrade to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Visiting the FPT Japan office, the scale of Vietnamese enterprise in Japan became even more apparent. Here, a dynamic workforce, 70% of whom are Vietnamese and mostly trilingual, easily navigates the complex interplay of Japanese, Vietnamese, and English languages. Spanning the nation from Okinawa to Hokkaido, FPT Japan stands as a testament to the decades-long Vietnamese business interests in Japan. They are not just working in Japan; they are a bridge linking our two cultures, economies, and aspirations.
Kayla Nguyen, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, and Trinh Van Thao, Chief People Officer of FPT Japan Holdings, greeted me at the office and shared that in 2024 alone, hundreds of new employees, Japanese, Vietnamese and international, will be starting their careers with FPT Japan.
I also had the opportunity to visit the newly opened Pizza 4P’s, the first in Japan, in the gleaming new development Azabudai Hills. Founder and CEO Yosuke Masuko was on hand at the venue to share that the highly anticipated opening was greeted by many Japanese fans curious about the Vietnamese pizza chain, which has been a household favorite for many years here at home in Vietnam.
The upgraded partnership between our countries, announced during President Thuong’s visit, marks a significant milestone. It is a commitment to shared goals of peace, stability, and prosperity in Asia and the world. This new chapter in Vietnam-Japan relations promises more substantial, comprehensive, and closely linked development. Japan’s support for Vietnam’s industrialization and modernization, as well as its acknowledgment of Vietnam’s role in the Indo-Pacific strategy, underlines the strategic importance of this partnership.
In our discussions during the reader meet-up, the topic frequently shifted to the future - what this partnership means for individuals and businesses alike. The comprehensive strategic partnership will bolster cooperation in security, defense, economic security, human resource development, culture, and tourism. It includes practical and effective cooperation in UN peacekeeping, overcoming war consequences, military medicine, humanitarian relief, and natural disaster relief. It also encompasses the strengthening of economic links and the resilience of supply chains, which are crucial in today’s interconnected world.
The Technology and Defense Equipment Transfer agreement, signed in September 2021, and Japan’s new “Official Security Assistance” (OSA) framework are pivotal in deepening security cooperation. These initiatives will maintain and strengthen international peace and security, reflecting a shared commitment to a free and open international order.
Moreover, the emphasis on promoting cooperation on safety and security at sea, joint training, information sharing, and capacity building, particularly within the coast guard forces, is vital. It resonates deeply with the maritime nations that we are, underscoring our shared interest in maintaining peace, security, and legal economic activities in our seas.
On the economic front, Japan’s continued support for Vietnam’s journey towards becoming a developed country by 2045 is encouraging. The prospect of yen-denominated loans exceeding 100 billion yen for the first time since 2017 signals a robust economic partnership. The emphasis on creating stable and sustainable supply chains speaks to our mutual desire for economic resilience.
Cultural and people exchanges also hold a special place in this partnership. The encouragement for Vietnamese students to study in Japan and the promotion of Japanese language teaching in Vietnam are steps towards a deeper mutual understanding. Boosting tourism, cultural festivals, and creating a favorable environment for travel enhances the people-to-people connection that is essential for any robust bilateral relationship.
Innovations in energy, environment, science, and technology, including the development of smart grids, smart cities, and digital economy cooperation, are pivotal. These initiatives are not just about technological advancement; they are about preparing our societies for the future, fostering sustainable development, and ensuring our nations remain at the forefront of the digital revolution.
In conclusion, the upgraded Vietnam-Japan Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is more than a diplomatic milestone. It is a reflection of the shared aspirations and dreams of our people. As I left Japan, I carried with me stories of hope, ambition, and a strong belief in the future of Vietnam-Japan relations. This partnership is a beacon of collaboration and mutual respect, a blueprint for peace and prosperity, not just for our nations but for the entire region. As we embark on this new chapter, let’s celebrate the bonds that tie us and the bright future that lies ahead.