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Japan to boost co-op with Bangladesh, says envoy

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 27 October, 2021 12:00 AM
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Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki has said Japan will strive to strengthen its relations, economic cooperation, development of connectivity and infrastructure with Bangladesh, and redouble its efforts to improve investment atmosphere for Japanese companies here.

“As the largest development partner, Japan will keep working towards improving regional connectivity through infrastructure projects, as well as for the development and stability of Bangladesh and the Indo-Pacific region as a whole,” he said.

In a message issued marking two years since his arrival in Dhaka, Ito Naoki said Japan will promote practical cooperation with Bangladesh to realise the vision of "Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)" for peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

About the Japan-funded mega projects in Bangladesh, he said currently several large-scale infrastructure projects that symbolise the rapid economic growth of Bangladesh are steadily underway.

The flagship projects include Dhaka Metro, expansion of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Jamuna Railway Bridge and Matarbari Deep Seaport.

A trial run of Dhaka Metro Line 6 began in August and it is expected to open by the end of 2022.

At the same time, the Japanese envoy said, “We’ll redouble our efforts to improve the investment climate for Japanese companies as they expand their investment and business. We’ll continue to address customs clearance, overseas remittance, import transaction settlement and taxation challenges.”

He said resolving the Rohingya crisis is also crucial from the perspective of realising the FOIP. The recent situation in Myanmar since the coup last February has made the repatriation of the Myanmar’s forcibly displaced nationals more difficult. 

As the crisis is protracted, Ito Naoki said, it is urgent to improve the condition of Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar, including education, skill training and livelihood.

In this regard, he welcomed the memorandum of understanding recently signed between the government of Bangladesh and UN agencies to cooperate in the relocation plan of Rohingyas to Bhasan Char.

“Japan will work with the international community for humanitarian assistance and the repatriation of the displaced people,” the Japanese ambassador added.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic significantly impacted economic activities and cultural and people’s exchanges between Japan and Bangladesh during the one and half years.

Despite these difficulties, Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide sent a video message marking the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence and the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in March last to strengthen the relationship.

In the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, six Bangladeshi athletes took part and State Minister for Youth and Sports Zahid Ahsan Russel and his wife also visited Japan. Since March, "Japan Fest 2021" has been made available online (YouTube) and reached many views.

In addition, last year Bangladesh became the world’s largest recipient country of yen loans of approximately 332 billion yen on a commitment basis. “Even amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been a year of deepening friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries,” Ito Naoki said.

He further said Japan provided more than 3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine for Bangladesh to meet the needs of its people facing the threat of Covid-19 infection. “We’ll also continue our efforts to make the vaccination available further to Japanese citizens in Bangladesh.”

About the tragic terrorist attack in Dhaka that took place five years ago, the Japanese ambassador offered his sincere condolences to those Japanese nationals who lost their lives. “I renewed my determination to work harder for the development of Bangladesh and strengthen bilateral relations without letting the incident fade away.”

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations next year, he said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in a letter to his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina stated that he would strive to deepen cooperation between the two countries.

The government of Japan will work vigorously to deepen understanding of Japan further, expand people-to-people exchange and promote Japanese culture in Bangladesh, by holding the anniversary events in 2022, Ito Naoki said.

“For the sake of the safety and security of Japanese people living in Bangladesh and visitors to Bangladesh, the embassy will make every effort to build a better relationship between Japan and Bangladesh in all fields, while asking for your opinions and cooperation,” Ambassador Ito said.