“The History of Vietnam-Japan Relations: A Chronicle of ‘Our Story'”

At Tokyo Kaikan, the renowned event center of Japan's capital, the Japanese translation of "Our Story", written by former Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc, was unveiled.

Vo Hong Phuc speaks at the event. Photo: VNN

50th anniversary of Vietnam-Japan diplomatic relations

The book “Our story” is attached with the logo to celebrate 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 “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star” by the Japanese Government in 2012.

Attending the ceremony was the Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan alongside former Japanese ambassadors to Vietnam, parliamentarians, businessmen, and representatives of Japanese organizations.

Phuc started writing the book when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, when many areas in Hanoi were blocked and isolated.

The book has several chapters on the relationship between the two countries since the beginning of the post-Reunification period, the meetings of state leaders, especially Japan’s contribution to the resumption of ODA (Official Development Assistance) and support for reform through the “Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative.”

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

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

Many recommendations of Japanese researchers and businesses 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 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.

With the implementation of the Vietnam-Japan Joint Initiative, Japanese investors considered Vietnam as a potential investment market. They came to Vietnam, making Japan one of the leading investors in Vietnam.

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 Peace Accords was signed, with 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.

“As a young man working in a government policy-making agency, I admire and look forward to learning from Japan’s experiences so that our country will also thrive after protracted wars. That’s why I have connected with the Japanese and have more stories to tell.”

Book launching at Tokyo Kaikan on May 16, 2023. Photo: VNN

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.

In 1990-1992, leaders of large Japanese corporations gradually entered Vietnam. Since 1993, visits by senior leaders of the two countries began.

Since then, the relationship between the two countries developed comprehensively in all fields. Japan has become the largest Official Development Assistance (ODA) supplier to Vietnam.

Japanese friends congratulate Vo Hong Phuc on the release of the Japanese version of the book “Our Story”. Photo: VNN

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 explained his inspiration for his book.

“Within the limited scope of the book, with my knowledge and vision, I want to tell the small stories that I witnessed and participated in. This is for us to 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 forerunners 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, Sojitz Corporation introduced the book on Amazon.
Rosie Nguyen