Vietnam urges cautious approach to Japanese corrupt payments allegations

Recent Japanese media reports of bribery at a Japan-funded road project were not objective or accurate, a Vietnamese deputy minister has said.

Media outlets should be cautious when reporting on an alleged bribery scandal involving a Ho Chi Minh City highway project as investigations were still underway, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ho Xuan Son has said.

Vietnam News Agency (VNA) Saturday quoted Son responding to recent Japanese media reports accusing several Japanese officials of offering bribes to Vietnamese authorities in a bid to secure contracts for the East-West Highway Project. Son told VNA the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and agencies concerned were taking the allegations seriously.

Even though the two countries did not yet have any legal cooperation treaty, Vietnam was willing to work with Japanese authorities to investigate the allegations, Son said.

Vietnam has suggested Japanese and Vietnamese media refrain from reporting on the issue until after the investigations concluded.

Misleading media reports could make the public suspicious of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) policies and Vietnam’s determination to crack down on corruption, Son said. The Vietnamese government has said it wants to eliminate waste and corruption at ODA-funded projects, Son said.

ODA pledged for Vietnam surged to $5.4 billion in 2008 from $3.7 billion two years ago.

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