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During his visit to Hue, Vietnam’s former royal capital, earlier this year, Emperor Akihito and his entourage were reminded of their country’s long-standing cultural connections with Vietnam. In the eighth century, Phat Triet, a Cham Buddhist monk from what is now central Vietnam, traveled to Japan, where he helped to popularize Cham music and dance, which was later incorporated into the Japanese Imperial Court’s gagaku performances. During his visit, the Emperor had the opportunity to enjoy the Vietnamese version of gagaku, which also has Cham origins.

Emperor Akihito’s visit to Vietnam — the first by a Japanese monarch — represents an important milestone in the maturing bilateral relationship, which has been buttressed not only by strong cultural links, but also by robust economic ties and growing strategic cooperation. At the end of last year, Japan was Vietnam’s largest source of official development assistance, its second-largest foreign investor and its fourth-largest trade partner.

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