Nov 22, 2021 / 22:31

Vietnamese PM's visit to Japan: significant for both countries' post-Covid recovery

The two ministers are expected to discuss the supporting industry to restore reliable supply chains.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh arrived in Tokyo on Monday evening (local time), beginning his four-day visit to Japan that aims to enhance bilateral economic relations and promote trade volume between the two countries.

Chinh is the first foreign head of government to visit Kishida Fumio as Japan’s prime minister.

Prime Minister Chinh’s visit is significant as both countries are preparing for their post-Covid-19 economic recovery, according to Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Canberra.

During the visit, the main topics of discussion will be bilateral economic relations in general and continued Japanese assistance to Vietnam to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and post-pandemic recovery.

Vietnam’s economic recovery is important to Japan as it is a major trading partner and source of foreign investment, Prof. Thayer told The Hanoi Times.

 Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (1st left) arrives at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo on Nov 22. Photo: Nhat Bac/ VGP

For that reason, a key outcome would be agreement on how Vietnam can facilitate the operations of Japanese businesses that are seeking to relocate from China and ensure reliable supply chains between the two countries.

In addition, the Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative recently moved to its eighth phase. Three new groups of issues were added to the current agenda of eleven groups in response to the disruption of supply chains caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prof. Thayer said the two prime ministers will likely discuss what steps to take in developing supporting industry to restore reliable supply chains, innovation, and development of highly skilled human resources.

"Japan is the largest provider of official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam. It is likely Vietnam will indicate its priority needs and solicit Japanese assistance, such as support for strategic infrastructure, green growth, and digital transformation," Thayer said.

The two prime ministers are expected to discuss the coordination of their foreign policies. Chinh would likely brief Kishida on what initiatives Vietnam will take to facilitate ASEAN-Japan relations, including how to restore regional supply chains disrupted by Covid-19.

According to Prof. Thayer, the two leaders are expected to discuss how to manage separate requests by China and Taiwan to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Japan supports Taiwan’s membership.

Japan’s prime minister might make proposals on how to further the agreement between Japan and Vietnam on the Transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology and solicit a response from Prime Minister Chinh.

Prof. Thayer stressed that the two leaders are likely to discuss a range of international and regional issues such as the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, the crisis in Myanmar, and “peace, stability, security, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.”

They will also support the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea on the basis of international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They will call for the full implementation of the Declaration on Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea and the conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

Significant visit

Prof. Thayer said the visit will be an important opportunity for the two leaders to get to know each other and discuss where they would like to take bilateral relations.

Earlier, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference that the meeting would “build personal trust” between the two leaders.

Vietnam-Japan relations have a sound foundation based on an extensive strategic partnership and close personal relations between the former prime ministers of Vietnam (Nguyen Xuan Phuc) and Japan (Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga).

Japan accords high priority in its bilateral relations with Vietnam and its relations with ASEAN, the professor emphasized.

Meanwhile, Hirokazu Matsuno said, “Vietnam is a partner for the realization of a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’, and it is expected that Japan-Vietnam relations will be further strengthened and a personal relationship of trust between leaders will be built.”

During the visit, PM Chinh will attend investment conferences, work with universities and research institutes, witness the signing of agreements, meet Vietnamese-Japanese intellectuals, and visit Tochigi prefecture where many Vietnamese people live in.

Both Japanese and Vietnamese called the bilateral relations “the best relationship ever” under a broad strategic partnership.