"Our Story" of Vietnam-Japan Cooperation

Earlier this week, the Japanese version of the book "Our Story" by Vo Hong Phuc, former Minister of Planning and Investment, was introduced at Tokyo Kaikan, the premier event center of Tokyo, Japan.
May 22, 2023 | 11:11
Vo Hong Phuc speaks at the event. Photo: VNN

The book "Our Story"

The book is stamped with the logo of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Japan, which is of great significance in the relationship between the two countries and with Vo Hong Phuc particularly. Phuc was awarded “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star” by the Japanese government in 2012.

Attending the ceremony were guests who were the Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan, former Japanese ambassadors to Vietnam, parliamentarians, businessmen, and representatives of Japanese organizations.

Phuc started writing a book when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, many areas in Hanoi were blocked and isolated. Several chapters of the book cover the relationship between the two countries since the beginning of the post-Reunification period and feature the many meetings of state leaders.

They also mention Japan's contributions to ODA resumption and reform support through the Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative for Vietnam.

The Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative was approved by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai and Prime Minister Koizumi more than 20 years ago.

Until August 2011, after Phuc retired, it continued to be implemented through the tenure of Minister Bui Quang Vinh and two terms of Minister Nguyen Chi Dung.

The initiative had a great impact on improving the investment environment in Vietnam.

Many recommendations of researchers and Japanese business were received by Vietnamese representatives. They perfected the legal system and existing legal documents or promulgated new ones, promoting the reform of administrative procedures.

The recommendations helped Vietnam have a favorable investment environment, attracting investment capital from the private sector. They also improved the competitiveness of the economy, gradually enhanced the market economy institutions, contributing to the process of world economic integration and WTO accession.

The Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative made important contributions to Vietnam's innovation and development over the years. It has been appreciated by foreign investors, especially investors from Japan.

A long journey

Phuc recalled in May 1972, when the negotiations on peace for Vietnam in Paris were coming to an end, Vietnam embarked on a study of its post-war development.

At that time, a delegation of Japanese economic experts went to Vietnam to explore the possibility of cooperation in the fields of oil and minerals.

The first working session was at the end of May 1972. The last working session was on January 26, 1973, one day before the Paris Agreement was signed, with the signing of an agreement on cooperation in oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Tonkin.

The cooperation in oil and gas exploration was unsuccessful. However, Phuc had a deep impression of his Japanese friends at that time.

During the working sessions, Japan introduced the successful lessons of Japan in the two decades of miraculous development from 1950 to 1970, and the goal of outstanding development to become the second economic power of Japan by 1985.

In September 1973, the two countries established diplomatic relations. In May 1975, Vietnam reunified. A new opportunity opened up for the relationship between the two countries.

In 1986, Vietnam implemented the policy of Doi Moi (renewal), opening to the world. However, the United States still applied the embargo.

Japanese businesses found ways to cooperate with Vietnam in investment and trade. Nissho Iwai entered Vietnam under its own name. Other large corporations set up subsidiaries to enter Vietnam, avoiding US sanctions.

Book launching at Tokyo Kaikan on May 16, 2023.

In the years 1990-1992, leaders of large Japanese corporations entered Vietnam one after another. In 1993, the Japanese Government officially resumed development aid to Vietnam. Since 1993, visits by senior leaders of the two countries begun.

Since then, relations between the two countries developed comprehensively in all fields, including government relations, business relations and people-to-people exchanges.

Japan has become the largest official development assistance (ODA) supplier to Vietnam. Japanese enterprises are among the businesses with leading investment and trade relations in Vietnam. People-to-people exchanges between the two countries developed strongly.

'Our story' and Journey of Vietnam-Japan Cooperation
Japanese friends congratulate Vo Hong Phuc on the release of the Japanese version of the book "Our Story". Photo: VNN

Along with the cooperation on those three fields, cooperation in policy formulation also developed. In 1995, Vietnam and Japan launched a research project on the development policy of Professor Ishikawa.

In 2003, the two sides embarked on the Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative, a research program to improve the investment and business environment in Vietnam, which continued to this day. Japan has become a strategic partner of Vietnam in all fields.

2023 is the year of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Japan, the 30th anniversary of Japan's official resumption of ODA for Vietnam, and the 20th anniversary of the Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative.

At the ceremony, Phuc said that "Within the limited scope of the book, my knowledge and vision, I want to tell the small stories that I witnessed and participated in so that we can be remember the contributions of the forerunners in building and developing the Vietnam-Japan relations from the arduous beginning to the present day.

We young people follow in the footsteps of the elderly in the next 10 years, 20 years, 50 years and forever, together, to develop that good relationship for the lasting benefit of both countries!"

The Japanese version of the book “Our Story” is exclusively published and distributed by Sojitz Corporation, a leading multi-industry business in Japan. The Japanese version of the book had the logo of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam. Previously, on April 10, 2023, Sojitz Corporation introduced the book on Amazon.
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