|Blossoming friendship: Osaka Castle surrounded by cherry blossoms. — Photo courtesy of Osaka Government Tourism Bureau and JNTO
Hiroshi Fukada, Japan's Ambassador to Viet Nam, writes to Viet Nam News for the celebration of the Emperor's birthday on December 23
Today His Majesty the Emperor of Japan turned 81 years old. On the occasion of His Majesty's birthday, I would like to look back at this year.
Since I arrived in Viet Nam last September, more than a year has passed so quickly. In the 1990s, soon after Japan resumed its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Viet Nam, I had the chance to visit the country as Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs director, in charge of economic co-operation. When I assumed the duty of ambassador last year, I was pleased to see evidence of how Viet Nam has developed and grown over those 20 years.
Picturing a snapshot of this year in my mind, I feel that Japan and Viet Nam have reaffirmed their strong bonds, and deepened them under ever-changing circumstances in Asia and beyond.
As ambassador, I have met many Vietnamese people from different fields, including Government, business and cultural organisations, and befriended them. Thinking about this year's activities, I feel a deep sense of fulfillment. I also had the opportunity to visit various provinces across Viet Nam, and I enjoyed their charms and energies.
This year, President Truong Tan Sang paid a State visit to Japan in March and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida visited Viet Nam in July. Co-operation between the two governments has been further fortified. Economic relations between Japan and Viet Nam are also improving, and the number of Japanese residents and Japanese companies in Viet Nam has increased.
I am delighted that exchanges between Japan and Viet Nam are becoming even more active in every aspect. I have renewed my determination to do my best to further expand our countries' co-operative relationship next year.
As 2014 draws to a close, I have some great news to share. Nhat Tan Bridge, Noi Bai Airport Terminal 2 and the road connecting them are expected to be completed in January. All three projects are supported by Japanese ODA. With the completion of these projects, traffic flow from Noi Bai Airport, the entrance of Ha Noi, to the city centre will dramatically improve. These three projects serve as a symbol of the friendship between Japan and Viet Nam. Please allow me to celebrate the completion of these projects with all of you.
Japan will continue to work hand in hand with Viet Nam and contribute to the country's economic development in the coming years. I sincerely hope that we will further develop our cordial relationship next year. — VNS