Alarmed that the huge contracts could go to another country, then Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda and Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto went over Kan’s head and jointly signed a letter addressed to Vietnam’s prime minister assuring him that there was no change in the policy.
According to government sources, South Korea initiated intense lobbying efforts with Hanoi to win contracts to build nuclear power plants in Vietnam after the accident at the Fukushima plant.
Fearing that Japan would lose out on billions of dollars, Kaieda and other government officials decided Tokyo had a duty to let Vietnam know that it would maintain its policy of exporting nuclear power plant technology.
Because of that, they urged Kan to write to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung apprising him of that stance. However, Kan was reluctant to do so.
But in July this year, Kan said he would review the policy of exporting nuclear technology.
In August, Kan changed his mind again. Still, his Cabinet was under the impression that Kan would not backpedal on the issue. Vietnam, meantime, was concerned about Japan’s policy on exporting nuclear plant technology.
At the same time, South Korea intensified its push to sell the technology to Vietnam.
Against this background, Kaieda and Matsumoto signed the letter informing Vietnam that it could still count on Japan.
Chiaki Takahashi, then senior vice foreign minister, visited Vietnam on Aug. 11 and handed the letter to Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.
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