Suga's Vietnam visit to spur global race for investment deals
Nikkei -- Oct 19
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrived on Sunday in Vietnam for the first stop in his Southeast Asian tour, which also marks a diplomatic restart of sorts for Hanoi as it courts international investors.

Suga is the first foreign leader of major economies visiting Vietnam since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Hanoi seeks stronger economic and defense ties with Japan as a counterbalance to China's growing influence in the region, where Vietnam is a leading critical voice against Beijing's encroachments.

The Japanese leader's trip is likely to accelerate advanced economies' plays for greater business with Vietnam, which has a new trade deal with the European Union and is negotiating a separate one with the U.K. The U.S. is also showing interest as a partner.

A spokesperson for Vietnam's foreign ministry welcomed that Suga chose the country for his first overseas trip since becoming prime minister in September.

According to Vietnamese media, Suga is expected to meet with Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong -- the country's President and de facto top leader -- on Monday, along with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Suga and his entourage are expected to have a more limited itinerary than past Japanese leaders, owing to lingering coronavirus-related restrictions.

High on Hanoi's agenda for the visit is securing greater economic cooperation.

Skyscrapers tower over the Saigon river in Ho Chi Minh City. The coronavirus pandemic has broken Vietnam's streak of 7%-plus economic growth. © Reuters

While Vietnam has succeeded in containing COVID-19 infections better than any other Southeast Asian nation, its export-driven economy has not been spared the impact of the pandemic. Real gross domestic product growth will slow to 1.6% this year from more than 7% in the preceding two years, according to an International Monetary Fund forecast.

With foreign direct investment flows falling short of year-earlier levels, Phuc is expected to call on Suga to encourage Japanese companies to pump more capital into Vietnam.

Japan ranks second to South Korea as a source of Vietnam's FDI on a cumulative basis in 2019. It is also the country's fourth-largest trade partner, after China, the U.S., and South Korea. Both countries belong to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. The two nations also have deepening ties between their peoples, with more than 400,000 Vietnamese living in Japan.

Manufacturers have led Japanese investment in Vietnam so far, attracted by wages that are lower than in China. But rising income levels have opened up opportunities for service-sector companies to capture consumer demand in a country where a young population promises long-term growth potential.

News source: Nikkei
Nov 28
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday that shorter hours for bars and restasurants serving alcohol would be "crucial" in stemming the coronavirus spread, with other major cities Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo having already taken or getting set to take similar steps. (Japan Today)
Nov 28
The Diet on Friday gave the green light to stop Saturday as well as next-day delivery of standard postal mail to address a worker shortage and falling demand due to increased use of the internet. (Japan Today)
Nov 25
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is poised to ask bars and restaurants that serve alcohol to shorten their hours. (NHK)
Nov 25
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has reasserted his country's sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands. He stressed the necessity of avoiding any action that could complicate matters in the waters around the islands. (NHK)
Nov 24
The Japanese government is considering giving a new honorific title to female imperial family members who lose their royal status after marriage to enable them to engage in public duties, government sources said Monday. (Kyodo)
Nov 23
Governors across Japan have called on the government to let them know as soon as possible about any changes to its programs designed to promote travel and dining. (NHK)
Nov 23
Chinese state media lashed out against Japan and Australia last week over their “confrontational” new defense pact and said the two countries would “pay a corresponding price” if it threatens China’s security. (TomoNews US)
Nov 23
Infectious disease experts have weighed in on Saturday's decision by the government to review its Go To Travel tourism promotion campaign, criticizing the move as too late and likely to have little effect in preventing the further spread of COVID-19. (Japan Times)
Nov 22
Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has announced that he's partially halting government programs brought in to boost travel and dining out. (NHK)
Nov 19
Japan will adopt stronger security requirements for drones used in defense and infrastructure surveillance next fiscal year, a move that will essentially shut out Chinese-made devices from government procurement. (Nikkei)
Nov 18
Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says his country and Australia have reached broad agreement on a pact related to joint exercises by the Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military. (NHK)
Nov 17
Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has conveyed to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison hope for a stronger bilateral partnership to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific. (NHK)
Nov 17
Hokkaido's local government heads agreed Monday to ask residents of Sapporo to refrain from nonessential outings following back-to-back days of record coronavirus infections in the region. (Japan Times)
Nov 17
The International Olympic Committee has awarded former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo its highest honor for his contribution to the Olympic movement. (NHK)
Nov 17
A subtle change in Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's phrasing of a key Japanese foreign policy concept -- a "free and open Indo-Pacific" -- has raised questions about whether Tokyo has shifted its stance. (Kyodo)
Nov 16
Leaders from 15 Asia-Pacific nations have signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, a huge free economic zone. (NHK)
Nov 15
Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says he will work with Southeast Asian countries to fight the coronavirus. (NHK)
Nov 14
Japan's Regulatory Reform Minister Kono Taro says the use of personal seals will likely be abolished for most government paperwork. (NHK)
Nov 14
Japan will seek to keep in step with the new U.S. administration under President-elect Joe Biden in taking fiscal stimulus steps to revive the pandemic-hit world economy, while watching whether Washington will seek to return to a Trans-Pacific free trade pact it quit three years ago, Japanese officials say. (Japan Times)
Nov 13
Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says US President-elect Joe Biden has suggested that Washington will help Japan defend the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea under the bilateral security treaty. (NHK)