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Vietnam-Japan relations bearing fruit

Released at: 14:22, 07/06/2017

Vietnam-Japan relations bearing fruit

Mr. Masaaki Kobayashi/ Photo: Panasonic

Mr. Masaaki Kobayashi, General Director of Panasonic Vietnam, shares his thoughts with VET on relations between the two countries and peoples.

by Linh San

What are your impressions of Vietnam’s macroeconomic policymaking over the last year?

Since its inauguration in April 2016, I have seen that the new government led by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has been carrying out various reforms. We appreciate the government’s commitment and effort to improving the business environment and enhancing national competitiveness.

I understand that the so-called “facilitating government” has taken certain action, such as streamlining tax and regulations and revising laws and regulations to cut red tape and create a more favorable business environment.

With such actions, I believe that Vietnam will have more opportunities to attract foreign investment in the future. For Panasonic, it is positive for us in committing long-term investment and business expansion in Vietnam, to carry out our mission of making “A Better Life, A Better World” and contributing further to Vietnam’s development.

What do you believe the Vietnamese Government should do to improve the business and investment environment?

The government has shown a determination to reform and create a more favorable business environment. In my opinion, it can pay more attention to two matters: further developing the domestic support industry and boosting the local procurement rate, and developing high quality human resources, such as highly-skilled engineers and leaders.

Regarding the first, I understand that Vietnam targets increasing the local procurement rate and building up national manufacturing capability. We still have to import a lot of parts and materials and this causes difficulties while reducing efficiency in our manufacturing activities in Vietnam. In regard to the second, in pursuit of “A Better Life, A Better World” and to contribute to Vietnam’s economic development, one of our policies is “Made in Vietnam, Make for Vietnam”. That is, to study, understand and manufacture to meet Vietnamese consumers’ needs. In order to do that, besides investing in a variety of R&D activities, we also focus on developing high quality engineers.

We put significant investment into training activities, such as establishing the Institute of Manufacturing, organizing domestic and overseas training courses, cooperating with universities in talent development, and establishing high technology facilities, like the Risupia center, to inspire Vietnamese students in mathematics and science. I would like to stress that there is a high demand for high quality labor of Vietnam, not only from Panasonic but also generally speaking.

What do you think will be the outcomes from the Prime Minister’s visit to Japan?

2017 is a boom year in the relationship between Vietnam and Japan, as they prepare for the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties in 2018 and conduct bilateral exchanges. We first had an official visit to Vietnam by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in January and a State visit to Vietnam by the Emperor and Empress of Japan, which was a memorable milestone in the close friendship and cooperation between the two countries. And I strongly believe that the upcoming visit to Japan by the Vietnamese Prime Minister will bring practical outcomes and benefits for the two peoples.

Many people expect Vietnam-Japan trade to reach new heights this year as the two countries have agreed on many measures to boost trade. The tax reduction roadmap stipulated in the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (VJEPA) will be strengthened to form a bilateral free trade zone in the next ten years.

With around 15,000 Japanese people living in Vietnam and regular cultural exchanges, the two countries will strengthen their cultural bonds and people-to-people exchanges will be deepened further. There were also nearly 1 million Vietnamese and Japanese visiting the other country in 2016, so I think tourism cooperation will be boosted to promote initiatives, introduce attractive destinations, and encourage visitor exchanges, etc.

Looking five years ahead, what do you see as the significant fields of cooperation between Vietnam and Japan?

With a long tradition of trade exchange, the two countries have been constantly developing bilateral economic relations. I believe that economic solidarity is very important to both countries but it is not enough. Vietnam and Japan need more mutual understanding in all fields. The role of the younger generation is particularly necessary to understanding, through different types of exchange activities in culture and education, etc.

That is why we have established and continue to develop Panasonic Risupia Vietnam as a destination for Panasonic to communicate with the younger generation. It is an experimental science museum that gives children the experience of future lifestyles and cultivates a confidence in mastering technology. The center has frequently organized different activities in education, the environment, and cultural exchanges for both Vietnamese and Japanese children, in order to inspire the younger generation in science and technology towards “A Better Life, A Better World” as well as to raise their awareness about the long-term relationship between Vietnam and Japan.

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