Vietnam’s President Reunites with Japanese Host Families; Thuong visited Akita, Miyazaki Prefs on Exchange Program

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Visiting Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, right, shakes hands with a member of his former host family at the State Guest House in the Moto-Akasaka area of Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Wednesday.

Long before he became the president of Vietnam, Vo Van Thuong visited Japan on an exchange program. On his current visit to Japan, Thuong, 52, invited his former host families and others from Akita and Miyazaki prefectures to a breakfast meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday, to renew old friendships.

Thuong stayed in Miyazaki in 1997 and Akita in 2011, for about a week each time, as a participant in a Japanese Foreign Ministry exchange program aimed at promoting understanding between Japan and Vietnam.

He said he was impressed by the cultural experiences he had in the two prefectures, such as farming and folk songs. “My [host] father taught me how to walk on snow and [host] mother taught me how to cook Japanese food,” Thuong recalled.

Noting that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam, Thuong said, “Grassroots exchanges and exchanges between young people [in the two countries] are extremely important.”

Ikuko Sato, 68, who runs a farmhouse guesthouse in Senboku, Akita Prefecture, said: “I was thrilled to see him back as such an admirable person. I’d like to continue to accept young Vietnamese people when they come to Japan.”