Japan’s Suga pledges immediate disaster assistance to Vietnam

By Viet Anh   October 19, 2020 | 01:13 am PT
Japan’s Suga pledges immediate disaster assistance to Vietnam
Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga (L) shakes hand with Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc before their talk in Hanoi on October 19, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga promised Vietnam immediate natural disaster relief besides signing agreements on energy, defense and health cooperation during his visit to the nation Monday.

Prime Minister Suga said Japan would provide Vietnam emergency assistance to cope with recent flooding in the central region, and continue to share experiences in natural disaster management at a news conference following a talk with Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi on Monday.

Suga and his wife arrived in Hanoi on Sunday night on a three-day official visit to Vietnam, his first overseas destination after taking office last month.

"Japan decided to provide immediate assistance to Vietnam to minimize the damage caused by heavy rains in its central region. Japan is a country with a lot of experience in disaster prevention, so we will continue to share our knowledge and experience on disaster prevention with Vietnam," he said.

At least 93 people have died and around 53,000 families evacuated as of Monday due to flooding and landslides in central Vietnam.

Suga said he is happy to visit Vietnam, currently chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and a key player in Japan's Indo-Pacific strategy.

"Japan, as an Indo-Pacific nation, will continue to contribute to the peace and stability in this region. I chose Vietnam because it is the most suitable destination from which to send this message to the world. PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and I have exchanged many ideas on bilateral relations and coping with Covid-19."

The two countries, he said, "have great potential for cooperation."

During their talks, the two PMs agreed for the two nations to strengthen cooperation in national defense, economics, and energy.

Both sides pledged to deepen their bilateral relationship, restore and continue cooperation under new normal conditions in different fields, and agreed to enhance political trust and cooperation in security and defense. Besides, they will continue to combat Covid-19 and cooperate in fields affected by the pandemic.

The two countries will increase economic cooperation in a time when Vietnam prepares for Japanese businesses to invest and do business locally.

The two PMs signed 12 agreements to boost ties in economy, environment, public infrastructure, healthcare, agriculture, and energy. The energy agreements particularly involves the O Mon 2 Thermal Power Plant in southern Can Tho City and the Quang Ninh liquefied natural gas power plant in northern Quang Ninh Province, both of which are under development and expected to start operation in 2026.

To recover from the pandemic, the two agreed to commence a short-term travel process and restart two-way flight routes.

The Japanese PM said his government would provide Vietnam healthcare equipment worth four billion yen (almost $38 million) at most to recover from Covid-19.

The two sides reached a further agreement on the transfer of defense technologies.

"The fact both sides basically agreed on the transfer of defense equipment and technologies is a major development step in cooperation. I believe defense and security cooperation between the two countries will continue to grow," Suga said.

As chair of ASEAN, Vietnam welcomes Japan to make active contributions to world peace and security.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc said: "I appreciate PM Suga's commitment to cooperation in ASEAN, the Mekong region, the United Nations, and to organizing the 37th ASEAN Summit that has been postponed to later this year due to the pandemic."

The two sides also reaffirmed the importance of ensuring maritime safety and security in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls East Sea, settling disputes in peace without threatening to use force, respecting and following international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and completing the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) as soon as possible.

On Monday, Suga also met with Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong and National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.

PM Suga will leave Vietnam for Indonesia on Tuesday.

Vietnam and Japan established diplomatic ties in 1973, upgrading bilateral ties to a strategic partnership in 2009, and to an extensive strategic partnership in 2014.

PM Suga, 71, became Prime Minister of Japan after a parliamentary vote on September 16, replacing Shinzo Abe, who resigned with his cabinet, citing health problems.

This is the second consecutive time a Japanese prime minister chose Vietnam as his first overseas destination after taking office. In 2013, then Japanese PM Abe also chose Vietnam as his first destination after taking office.

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