Japan has shared some “preliminary ideas” with Bangladesh that can help expedite the Rohingya repatriation process as the country, being a common friend of Bangladesh and Myanmar, does not want to see “prolongation” of the Rohingya situation.
Japanese Foreign Minister Tara Kono floated the ideas during a bilateral meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday evening.“Minister Kono clearly mentioned that we don’t want prolongation of this situation. We do hope that the situation (repatriation process) will be expedited,” said Deputy Press Secretary of the Japanese government Jun Saito.
While talking to a small group of journalists, including the UNB correspondent, the spokesperson of the Japanese Foreign Minister’s visit said and Minister Kono wants to play a certain role in expediting the “situation” (Rohingya repatriation process).
The Japanese Foreign Minister, who visited Bangladesh thrice and Rohingya camps two times, is now in Myanmar to discuss Rohingya issues with Myanmar leadership.
“I can’t prejudge what will happen tomorrow (during meetings with Myanmar leadership),” said Jun Saito adding that Japan has been telling Myanmar to demonstrate progress in a visible way.
Responding to a question, the Japanese official said Minister Kono did not use the specific word “mediation” but used the word “dialogue” that Japan can promote between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
“When he (Minister Kono) visits this region, it’s always Bangladesh and Myanmar. He never visits just one,” Saito said asking reporters not to expect any breaking news instantly but perhaps there is some development on that in the coming days.The Japanese Foreign Minister, at the meeting, showed his concern about the prolonged displacement of people from Myanmar and reiterated that Japan will continue to support Bangladesh and Myanmar’s efforts for early repatriation of Rohingyas.
Saito said Japan, being a friend of both Bangladesh and Myanmar, is trying hard to help understand the situation.
He said there is a bilateral issue at the base of this and it needs engagement and involvement of international society.
While visiting Rohingya camps, the Japanese Foreign Minister showed a very strong commitment to helping expedite the dialogue between the two countries.
It was a very long day, social dinner with your foreign minister – Kono -has been thrice in this country already, Saito said.
“We spent around two hours in the camp and had conversation and dialogue with the representatives of the displaced people,” said the Japanese official.
It was Minister Kono’s second time in Cox’s Bazar after his first visit in 2017 when he had spent 30 minutes; Saito said there was a great improvement of the situation on the ground.
Minister Kono showed his very high appreciation over the Bangladesh efforts in accepting and sheltering Rohingya people and having continuous dialogue under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership.
He asked Minister Momen to continue such dialogue for the repatriation of displaced people reiterated Japanese position shared by all the concerned players -- a safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingyas.
On Tuesday, Dr Momen said Japan proposed to play a role as a mediator in Tokyo taking Bangladesh and Myanmar on board to find a peaceful solution to Rohingya crisis ensuring their safe return to their place of origin in Rakhine State.
“Bangladesh will consider the proposal," he told reporters after the bilateral meeting with his Japanese counterpart Kono mentioning that Bangladesh is looking for the resumption of Rohingya repatriation.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe showed his deep respect for the government of Bangladesh for generously accepting and protecting the Rohingyas on humanitarian ground and the two countries share the importance of stability in Cox’s Bazar from the perspective of enhancing connectivity and securing regional stability, another official said.
On May 29, Prime Minister Abe held a 50-minute meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in Japan and discussed ways to find a “durable and early solution” to the Rohingya crisis.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered the country since August 25, 2017.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.
On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.
The “Physical Arrangement” stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of repatriation.
The first batch of Rohingyas was scheduled to return on November 15 last year but it was halted amid unwillingness of Rohingyas to return for lack of a congenial environment in Rakhine.