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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  20 March 2014  

VN-Japan ties taken to new high

Japan and Vietnam have decided to elevate bilateral relations into an "extensive strategic partnership". This was announced in a joint statement issued here yesterday after a meeting between President Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Japanese praised a speech by President Sang at the National Diet (parliament) in which he said the long-standing relationship between Viet Nam and Japan began in the eighth century when a Vietnamese Buddhist monk named Phat Triet carried out missionary work in Japan.

Sang thanked Japan for providing assistance to clear unexploded ordnance and landmines through the Japan ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).

Bearing in mind the need to enhance maritime law-enforcement agencies in Viet Nam, Abe announced the dispatch of a survey team to Viet Nam at an early date to exchange opinions.

The Vietnamese side proposed an early commencement of negotiations on treaties on mutual legal assistance, extradition, and the transfer of people sentenced under the law. The Japanese expressed hope that Viet Nam would consider joining multilateral treaties, including the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters.

The two sides shared the intention to continue working closely for the effective implementation of the Memorandum on Bilateral Defense Cooperation and Exchanges signed in 2011; continue implementing the Viet Nam - Japan Defense Policy Dialogue at vice-ministerial level; enhance the exchange of delegations at various levels, including ministerial level, senior official level and expert level; promote cooperation between the respective services of the Viet Nam People's Army and the Japan Self-Defense Forces, and advance cooperation in such fields as human resource development, capacity building, and visits of military ships.

Japan said it would continue to work with Viet Nam in six key areas under the Viet Nam- Japan co-operation framework until 2020 with a vision to 2030. These are agro-fishery processing, electronics, automobiles and parts, agricultural machinery, the environmental industry, energy conservation - and shipbuilding.

Japan said Viet Nam continued to be an important partner for Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA). President Sang said he was grateful for the signing of Exchange of Notes for the second half of fiscal year 2013. This involved five projects in Viet Nam worth a total of about 120 billion yen (US$1.18 billion).

The two sides decided to strengthen co-operation in promoting the development and operation of infrastructure in Viet Nam. This would cover railways, roads, seaports, key airports, water supplies and sewerage systems, and water-resource development.

The Japanese said they were committed to continued co-operation with Viet Nam on improving the North-South railway system, consideration of a vision for a new North-South railway system, and the steady construction of urban railways.

The two sides agreed on effective implementation of the Viet Nam Automated Cargo Clearance System and Viet Nam Customs Intelligent Database System (VNACCS/VCIS) project. They also decided to actively promote Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in response to big demands for infrastructure.

Japan will continue to support the development of industrial zones in Hai Phong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau. The Vietnamese had made strong requests for Japan's experience on business administration and assistance for the promotion of investment from Japan.

The two sides will continue co-operation on the implementation of the Viet Nam – Japan Joint Initiative, Phase 5, on improving Viet Nam's investment climate to promote Japanese investment in Viet Nam. Two countries will strive to double two-way trade by 2020.

The Vietnamese said they appreciated the relaxation of Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) for Ethoxyquin in shrimps exported to Japan to 0.2ppm and Japan's efforts in developing conditions and early clearance of technical procedures for the importation of Vietnamese fruit, including dragon fruit and mangoes.

The Japanese welcomed Viet Nam's open market for Japanese beef, pork and offal. They also expressed appreciation for Viet Nam's efforts in developing conditions for early importation of apples from Japan.

The two sides welcomed the signing of the Record of Discussion on Co-operation between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Viet Nam and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan yesterday.

Regarding the project on a second nuclear power plant in Ninh Thuan Province, the two sides confirmed that they would continue to work together for its implementation.

The two sides agreed to work together on the implementation of a model project on generating power from industrial waste in Ha Noi. The project is being carried out by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO).

The Japanese said they were committed to continued assistance to enable Viet Nam to respond to climate change.

The two sides agreed to strengthening co-operation in the construction of urban infrastructure, including development of eco-cities, infrastructure for water supplies and sewerage systems, drainage, solid-waste disposal and underground facilities.

As regards eco-city development, the two sides agreed to co-ordinating for the effective implementation of the Memorandum of Co-operation for Promoting Implementation of Eco-city Project in Viet Nam signed in October 2013.

The Japanese said they would provide continued support to Viet Nam in capacity building and improvement of legal systems covering urban development.

The two sides welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation in the field of healthcare between Viet Nam's Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan yesterday.

The two sides also agreed to enhance co-operation between agencies in both countries covering social security and social welfare. This includes sharing Japan's experience in public-health insurance and preparations for an ageing society.

President Sang said he appreciated Japan's support for Viet Nam's health sector and its positive consideration of assistance for the construction of a Viet Nam – Japan Friendship Hospital in HCM City.

Both sides said they recognised the importance of co-operation in prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, including cancer and lifestyle diseases. They also welcomed co-operative achievements in human-resource development in health care.

The two sides decided to pursue to hold the Fourth Viet Nam – Japan Joint Committee on Science and Technology at the earliest possible time in Viet Nam. The Vietnamese said they appreciated Japan's support for capacity building for Vietnamese science and technology institutions.

They said they intended to promote joint research projects and training of students, expertsViet Nam within the frameworks of the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) and the e-ASIA Joint Research Program.

The two sides welcomed the signing of a Strategic Co-operation Programme on education between the Ministry of Education and Training of Viet Nam and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.

The Japanese said they would actively support Viet Nam in human-resource development, assist in the promotion of Japanese language education and help the development of Viet Nam's vocational skills.

The Vietnamese said they appreciated Japan's positive consideration for assistance to upgrade Can Tho University and the other selected universities, assistance towards establishment of a national skill testing system, and co-operation to develop certain Vietnamese vocational training colleges to meet international standards.

The two sides agreed on the continuation of the Viet Nam – Japan University project, which is being promoted by relevant stakeholders in both countries.

The two sides decided to strengthen the development of human resources and legal frameworks related to the construction sector. This was in line with the implementation of a document signed in June last year.

They also welcomed the fact that the first batch of eligible Vietnamese nurses and certified care-workers would arrive in Japan in June and confirmed they would aim for the smooth and effective acceptance of future candidates. President Sang said he hoped that a larger number of candidates would be accepted in the future.

President Sang said he hoped Japan would accept technical interns from Viet Nam in the areas of agriculture and fisheries, processing of agricultural and fishery products, and construction.

The two sides said they intended to accelerate discussions on the establishment of a dialogue framework to promote cultural co-operation and people-to-people exchanges.

They also praised the success of events to commemorate Viet Nam – Japan Friendship Year in 2013. This marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The two sides said they intended to promote cultural exchanges, including an annual Viet Nam festival in Japan.

The two sides said they intended to promote tourism between the two countries. President Sang welcomed the relaxation of visa requirements by the Japanese last July and said he hoped the process could be further simplified. Prime Minister Abe, in turn, said he appreciated the unilateral visa exemption implemented by Viet Nam in 2004. The two sides agreed to continue to exchange opinions on addressing further the simplification of visa application procedures for Vietnamese.

The two sides reaffirmed that they would strengthen co-operation at regional and international forums, including the United Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Forum (APEC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN+3, ASEAN Defence Minister's Meeting Plus (ADMM+) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). to help create peace, stability, co-operation and development in the region and the world.

Prime Minister Abe elaborated on Japan's security policy, including its recent efforts under the policy of Pro-active Contribution to Peace based on the principle of international co-operation. President Sang said he had strong expectations that Japan would continue to make active and constructive contribution to peace, stability and prosperity.

The Japanese expressed support for ASEAN's centrality in regional architecture and sad it was ready to continue assistance for enhancing regional connectivity and narrowing development gaps towards the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015.

Both sides said they valued the results of the Green Mekong Forum and affirmed their intention to continue co-operation, along with other relevant organisations, in particular the Mekong River Commission (MRC), in the exchange of information and research.

This included co-operation for a study on sustainable management and development of the Mekong River, including on the impact of mainstream hydro-power projects to promote sustainable development and management of water resources. The Japanese decided that priority would be given to projects in agriculture, health, investment, trade, tourism and infrastructure development in the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), the Southern Corridor, and the Cambodia-Laos-Viet Nam development triangle to strengthen connectivity and narrow development gaps.

The Vietnamese welcomed Prime Minister Abe's initiative to consult with ASEAN countries on holding an informal meeting between Japan and ASEAN. This would involve ministers in charge of defence matters discussing security issues, including disaster prevention.

Prime Minister Abe also welcomed the idea that Viet Nam was considering convening a third Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum this year.

The two sides said they intended to work closely in negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Prime Minister Abe praised Viet Nam's efforts towards settling issues, including those in the area of maritime security based on the principle of the rule of law.

Mindful of air and maritime linkages between Viet Nam and Japan in the region, Prime Minister Abe said that any unilateral and coercive action to challenge peace and stability should not be overlooked. The two sides affirmed that peace and stability at sea were in the common interest of both countries as well as of the international community.

They also shared the position that all relevant parties should comply with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and that the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea should be concluded at an early date.

The Japanese side welcomed the Vietnamese sides' decision to participate in the UN peacekeeping operations and reaffirmed its assistance to the Vietnamese side through human resource training, sharing of experience, and in other forms.

The two sides shared the intention to use broadcasting contents for fostering friendly relations, to be achieved through cooperation and coordination between broadcasting stations of the two countries.

The two sides encouraged North Korea to fully comply with its obligations under all relevant UNSC Resolutions and commitments under the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks on 19 September 2005, and supported complete and verifiable denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula.

High-profile meetings

President Sang met with high-profile Japanese officials and business executives in Tokyo yesterday, expressing hope that they would offer more support to further Viet Nam's growth.

At a reception for President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Tanaka Akihiko, Sang suggested JICA, as the Japanese government's co-ordinating agency on ODA co-operation, further assist Viet Nam to build specialised industrial zones in Hai Phong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau as part of efforts to realise Viet Nam's industrialisation strategy.

Hailing Viet Nam's automated cargo clearance system, he sought Japan's commitment to the project's second phase. He also called JICA's attention to the ongoing construction of Bach Dang Bridge, part of the Quang Ninh – Ha Noi - Hai Phong triangle, as well as Van Tien Bridge and Van Don economic zone.

Sang affirmed that the Government of Viet Nam would direct ministries and agencies to carry out projects funded by Japan's official development assistance efficiently.

Akihiko confirmed that JICA valued its partnership with Viet Nam and would launch key projects in the coming time.

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