Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attends the Mekong-Five Economic Forum hosted by Japan External Trade Organization in Tokyo, July 3, 2015. Photo by Toru Hanai, Reuters
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Friday sought Japan's continued support for Southeast Asian countries' efforts to ensure that rows over China's forceful assertion of its claims to ownership of disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea are resolved peacefully.
"We highly value and look forward to Japan's continued support for the position held by ASEAN countries," Dung said in a written response to questions submitted by Japanese reporters ahead of his departure for Tokyo to participate in the 7th Mekong-Japan Summit to be held Saturday.
He said 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations holds that the South China Sea issue "must be resolved via peaceful measures" and that "relevant parties must strictly abide by international law, refrain from actions that further complicate the situation or constitute changes to the status quo" in the sea.
The premier was responding to a question on what kind of role he expects Japan to play amid the regional tensions, which have been exacerbated by China's recent land reclamation activities in the Spratly and Paracel islands, which Vietnam also claims.
The Spratlys are also claimed, in whole or in part, by the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.
Calling developments in the South China Sea "complicated," while not referring to China by name, Dung said what happened in recent months and years has "directly affected the peace, security and cooperation environment in the region."
Peacefully resolving the maritime territorial disputes on the basis of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and achieving a "code of conduct" among claimants at an early date, he said, are "the common interests, aspiration and shared responsibility of regional countries as well as the entire international community."
"In that spirit, Vietnam welcomes and supports all initiatives and efforts of countries, including Japan, to preserve peace and stability" in the area, he added.
Regarding the ASEAN Economic Community that comes into being at the end of this year, Dung said, "Vietnam can become the connecting bridge for Japanese enterprises to access a vast export market with the population of over 600 million people."
"We look forward to receiving further support and assistance from Japan, particularly in the improvement of the business and investment environment...so that the ASEAN Economic Community can be truly efficient."
Dung specifically urged Japanese enterprises to step up their investment in Vietnam in infrastructure, manufacturing, high technology and supporting industries.
He sought their "proactive participation" in infrastructure projects aimed at enhancing "connectivity" in the Mekong sub-region, such as the ASEAN Highway Network, the Kunming-Singapore Railway, the East-West Economic Corridor, the Southern Economic Corridor, and upgrading of seaports.
The prime minister also expressed a desire for enhanced Japanese government support in such fields as human resources development, clean and green technologies, and mitigation of the impacts of natural disasters and climate change.