Vietnam – Japan: Natural allies built from people’s relation
The Vietnam – Japan relationship is neither normal nor purely strategic partnership. Many diplomats use the phrase “natural allies” to describe that affection. A reporter from the Vietnam Times interviewed Nghiem Vu Khai, former President of the Vietnam – Japan Friendship Association, to gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between the peoples of the two countries.
Mr. Nghiem Vu Khai, former President of the Vietnam – Japan Friendship Association
Could you please tell us when the relationship between Vietnam and Japan officially started?
The establishment of diplomatic relationship between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and Japan was signed on September 21st, 1973. In fact, the people’s relationship between Vietnam and Japan started over 4,000 years ago.
This was when Japanese merchant ships and traders usually anchored in Vietnam’s Dang Trong and Dang Ngoai trading ports. Such relics as the Bridge Pagoda in Hoi An ancient town, or ancient pictures showing Japanese merchant ships crossing Hien street trading port in Hung Yen province, graves and Japanese architectural constructions in Hoi An are the evidence for the age-old traditional relationship between the two countries.
What do you think creates this increasingly stricter and stronger relationship?
The more Vietnamese and Japanese people carry out cooperative and exchange activities, the more similarities they find, thus further deepening those similarities. This is a foundation and a favourable condition for the two peoples and two nations to bring the strategic partnership to a new height. It can be said that the Vietnam – Japan comprehensive strategic partnership starts from the friendship among the people from both nations, the relations between humans through generations. Therefore, many scholars and social activists agree that the Vietnam – Japan relationship is a natural partnership creating natural allies. “Natural” here means seeking and getting close to each other not for economic interest, security or something else which can be measured. This is natural harmony which goes beyond a strategic partnership, with the people’s partnership being the foundation.
Which milestone marks the development of the people’s relationship between the two countries?
In 1955, the Japan – Vietnam Friendship Association was established in Japan. Ten years later, in 1965, the Vietnam – Japan Friendship Association was also set up. As a gratitude for the assistance of Japanese people with the Vietnamese struggle for national unification in the middle of the 20th century, many Vietnamese people volunteered donations to support Japanese people who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami in March 11th, 2011. Although it was not a large amount of money, the donation became a symbol of profound and moving friendship and solidarity between the people.
Earlier, during Vietnam’s period of struggle against American imperialist for national protection, there were strong campaigns to gather support for Vietnam in Japan. Japanese friends refused American war ships involved in the war into their ports for repair and the Japanese people also collected medicine, clothes and books for Vietnam at that time.
Which event do you think is the one reflecting most clearly the people’s friendly relationship between the two countries?
The earthquake and tsunami in Japan came uninvited. However, the circumstances became a trial and a means of measurement of affection of the people’s friendship. The Vietnamese Prime Minister was one of the foreign high-ranking officials who visited Fukusima, the region most seriously stricken by the natural disasters. Japanese friends were very moved by that good deed. It represented sincere affection from the Vietnamese Party General Secretary and State President and enterprises to normal people. There have been a wide range of campaigns in support for foreign friends in Vietnam; however, there has been no campaign carried out on such a large scale in moving affection as the campaign to collect things for Japanese victims of the earthquake and tsunami. That is the gathering of natural similarities between culture, external relations policies and people’s diplomatic activities. A very special affection!
Thank you very much!
Pham Hung ( Translated by Phuong Huyen )