Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida shared his views about Japan-Vietnam relationship, especially their cooperation in maintaining maritime security, with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on his Vietnam visit.
Invited by Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and also Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, Kishida is visiting Vietnam from Thursday to Friday.
What is the major purpose of your visit to Vietnam? In recent years, which areas in the bilateral Japan-Vietnam cooperation have shown great progress?
Since my last visit in July 2014, this will be my most recent official trip to Vietnam. I have served as the secretary-general of the Japan-Vietnam Parliamentarians’ Friendship League for many years. This time, as Japan’s Foreign Minister, I am pleased to re-visit Vietnam, a country for which I have a strong love.
My last visit to Vietnam was carried out when the two countries elevated our relationship to an “Extensive Strategic Partnership” in March 2014. Since that time, the bilateral cooperation has seen much progress in various areas, complying with the guidelines of the initiative. The trust relationship between the two nations has also been greatly strengthened.
During this visit, I plan to meet with newly elected leaders of Vietnam to re-strengthen and develop our trust relationship. During the last few years, there have been many great leaps in economic development and maritime security through our bilateral cooperation. Based on previous achievements, I hope that I can have deep talks with newly elected leaders of Vietnam, especially Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and also Minister of Foreign Affairs.
We also need to build a stronger ASEAN community, with the special focus on Vietnam as it plays an important economic role in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The two countries will hold a meeting of Japan-Vietnam Cooperation Committee in order to strengthen the bilateral economic relationship in various areas including infrastructure, human resource training, agriculture, environment, and climate change.
In the meantime, Japan wishes to see that the two countries will cooperate more in many forums such as the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings like the ASEAN Summit. The two countries will also work with each other to strengthen maritime security and ensure international and regional safety and peace.
What are the new policies of Japan regarding ODA for Vietnam in the near future? What does Vietnam need to do to effectively use ODA funds from Japan?
The Japan-Vietnam partnership in the economic area has been strengthened and is getting stronger. The Japanese side has promised that it will support Vietnam on both software and hardware including improving infrastructure, training human resources, etc. The two nations should cooperate more to carry out many ODA-funded projects to help develop Vietnam as a leading country in promoting the development of the Mekong area.
According to the “Partnership for Quality Infrastructure” initiative last May, Japan will support Vietnam in building infrastructure to better connect with other countries in the Mekong area. One of the projects was the Nhat Tan Bridge (or Vietnam-Japan Friendship Bridge) which represents the strong friendship between the two countries.
Besides improving and building infrastructures, it is important to train human resources to help develop a strong and stable economy. According to the “Japan-Vietnam Initiative in Human Resource Training for Industry," the government, enterprises, and citizens of Japan will help train human resources for Vietnam’s industry to complete its proposed industrialization.
I hope that Vietnam can utilize effectively ODA funds from Japan. I also hope to see that Vietnam can develop stronger and can serve as a model for other surrounding countries.
Can you elaborate more on the cooperative role of Japan and Vietnam with regard to the East Vietnam Sea dispute? As Japan hosted the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting last month, what were the solutions of your country in resolving the East Vietnam Sea conflict?
Vietnam is an important partner sharing and respecting the spirit of law abiding with Japan. The two countries have developed a strong relationship in various areas, especially economic development. There have been many Japanese enterprises investing in the Vietnamese market. Moreover, Vietnam has an important location for the maintenance of the Southeast Asia security. It is also situated strategically on the many transporting sea routes of Japan to other countries.
With a strong view on abiding maritime laws, Japan has helped to enhance Vietnam's marine law-enforcement capabilities. During my last visit to Vietnam two years ago, Japan promised to provide six used vessels to Vietnam and this process has been completed. During the visit to Japan last September of Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Japan also made a promise to supply more used vessels. Moreover, we are currently providing Vietnam with new patrol ships. In the meantime, we have implemented various human resource training programs to bring Vietnamese personnel to train in Japan such as those from the Vietnam Marine Police.
Regarding the East Vietnam Sea dispute, my opinion is the “rule of law” should be respected and strictly followed. During my speech in Bangkok on May 2nd this year, I clearly stated Japan’s stance on the East Vietnam Sea dispute, namely to reinforce security of the area based on the spirit of law abiding.
In the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Hiroshima on April 11th, representatives of the participating countries affirmed the importance of cooperation among G7 nations to promote and ensure the law-abiding spirit on marine territory. G7 nations also addressed the current challenges and unanimously objected to any unilateral effort to change the current maritime territory.
Can you brief us on the cooperation prospect of the two countries in coping with climate change? What is the support from Japan to help prevent drought and salt intrusion in the Mekong Delta, the Middle and Central Highlands of Vietnam?
During the visit to Vietnam, I will discuss various solutions to prevent climate change. Currently, Japan is providing Vietnam with loans to prevent climate change. Regarding drought, Vietnam should operate its lakes and dams more effectively when there is a shortage of water. Besides, I wish to discuss with Vietnamese leaders how to use the loans and funds more effectively during this visit.
In the meantime, preventing salt intrusion is also a critical issue. Japan wishes to cooperate with Vietnam in improving people’s awareness about this issue. We will also provide detailed cooperative solutions to prevent climate change such as drought and salt intrusion.