Another $907 mil in ODA pledged as Japan, Vietnam strengthen ties

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Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (right) shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe during a three-day Tokyo visit that ended December 15. Photo courtesy of chinhphu.vn

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised 100 billion yen (US$970 million) in official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam during a conference with counterpart Nguyen Tuan Dung in Tokyo Sunday.

The money for the second stage of 2013 fiscal year will be invested in parts of a north-south expressway project, infrastructure development for a super port in Hai Phong, and a climate change adaptation program, according to Abe.

Japan earlier promised more than $550 million in ODA for the first stage of the fiscal year, starting in April. The funds were designated for the construction of a new terminal at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, the expansion of the Da Nhim hydropower plant in south-central Vietnam and a bridge construction in Hanoi.

Arrangements are also being planned for the two leaders to discuss Japan providing surveillance ships for Vietnam, according to a press briefing that reviewed the visit half an hour before the Vietnam delegation left Tokyo.

Abe said air and naval security in the region is an important issue for cooperation between the two countries.

Japan will look into Vietnam's proposal of further medical cooperation such as the establishment of a Vietnam-Japan Friendship Hospital or Japan employing more nurses from Vietnam. He said Japan would also consider providing further support for Vietnam's ongoing space center project and a potential Vietnam-Japan University.

The country is now Vietnam's biggest ODA sponsor with around $20 billion committed between 1993 and 2012. Japan is also Vietnam's largest foreign investor and its third largest trade partner as the countries' trade value reached an estimated $22.9 trillion-plus in the first 11 months the year.

Officials from Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade who went on the visit also signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry over power development projects.

Representatives of the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) also signed a strategic partnership agreement with Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.

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