Shinzo Abe – a close friend of Vietnam


VOV.VN - For Vietnamese people former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is always a close friend who made significant contributions to developing and elevating the friendship and close relationship that exists between the two countries.

PM Shinzo Abe welcomes Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Tokyo in September 2015
PM Shinzo Abe welcomes Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Tokyo in September 2015

A competent leader

Former Japanese PM Abe was shot dead on July 8 while campaigning ahead of the Upper House elections in the city of Nara. The news shocked the world.

Abe, 67, was born in Tokyo into a family of politicians. His grandfather Nobusuke Kishi was notable for also serving as PM of Japan and contributing to reforming the Japan-US Security Treaty. Meanwhile, his father held many important positions such as General Secretary of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Abe was first sworn in as PM to succeed Junichiro Koizumi in September, 2006, becoming Japan’s youngest post-war leader. He again served as Prime Minister between 2012 and 2020, becoming the longest serving head of government in Japanese history.

During his three terms in office, Abe prioritised rejuvenating the local economy by putting forward the policy dubbed “Abenomics” that focused on promoting growth transparency along with sustainability of monetary and financial policies.

On the diplomatic front, he visited a total of 176 countries and territories worldwide and successfully hosted leaders of industrialised countries at both G7 and G20 summits.

It was Abe who persuaded US President Barack Obama to visit the Hiroshima and Hiroshima Peace Memorial. He was also the first Japanese PM to visit Pearl Harbor and paid tributes to the martyrs who died in this historic battle.

He was active in pursuing constitutional reform to adapt to the new situation, including allowing the Japanese military to join missions abroad. This endeavour is being undertaken by his successor.

Strong affection for Vietnam

Vietnam-Japan relations have been at an unprecedented good stage since 2015, with ties developing across all aspects and recording substantive results. These results can be attributed to joint efforts of the people and generations of leaders of the two countries, especially Abe in his role as PM.

Abe had a lot of special affection for Vietnam. He was ready to receive Vietnamese leaders and people in any circumstances if possible. In addition to diplomatic protocol for senior leaders, he was willing to receive other leaders of lower ranks to share co-operation options that were most beneficial to both sides.

While receiving Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Tokyo in August, 2015, Abe affirmed that he attached great importance to developing the mutual ties.

“I have chosen Vietnam as the first country to visit after being re-elected as Prime Minister. I am pleased to see that the Vietnam - Japan relations have developed in a variety of fields, in the spirit of a strategic partnership,” he told the Vietnamese Party leader.

The two leaders shared deep concerns about actions that continuously challenged the status quo and caused tension in the South China Sea, known as the East Sea in Vietnam. They also adopted a joint statement outlying orientations for future co-operation between the two countries.

Furthermore, he made specific efforts to spend time meeting with Vietnamese leaders in international forums and related conferences wherever possible. Most notably, he himself invited Vietnam to participate in the expanded G7 Summit held in Japan in May, 2016, as well the G20 Summit held in Osaka in June, 2019. The then Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended both of those major conferences to represent the nation.

Abe visited Vietnam four times, in November 2006, January 2013, January 2017, and November, 2017, showing his strong emphasis on strengthening the extensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

Historical imprints in bilateral relations

While serving as PM, Abe prioritised promoting the provision of the official development assistance (ODA) for and ramping up trade-investment co-operation with Vietnam. Statistics show that Japanese capital for Vietnam sometimes amounted to US$7 billion a year between 2010 and 2020.

On the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Japan in 2019, Abe arranged a quick meeting between Vietnamese PM Phuc and US President Donald Trump that partially resolved trade fraud allegations made against the country.

With regard to trade, Japan has always been one of Vietnam’s key trade partners. In 2019, Japan was the fourth largest trading partner, behind only China, the US, and the Republic of Korea (RoK), the third largest export partner after the US and China, as well as the third largest import partner after China and the RoK.

Bilateral import and export turnover over the past decade has grown quite steadily, and there is almost no major difference in the trade balance between the two sides. Meanwhile, in 2019 Japan ranked fourth among foreign investors in the Vietnamese market by pouring US$4.14 billion into investment projects.

Cultural and education co-operation is also a key pillar in bilateral relations, particularly as the number of Vietnamese students and trainees accepted by Japan has increased sharply over the years. Despite being impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, Japan has moved to extend visas and provided medical and treatment support for Vietnamese expatriates, including students and trainees.

Although former PM Abe has passed away, his affection for Vietnam and his great contributions to relations between Vietnam and Japan will be forever respected and remembered in the heart of Vietnamese people.