Appreciating Japan’s continued assistance in infrastructure development, Bangladesh has sought Japan’s support in resolving the Rohingya crisis considering its good relations with Myanmar.
“On behalf of the people and the government of Bangladesh, we hope that Japan will step up efforts to help resolve the Rohingya crisis,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said while speaking at a programme on Bangladesh-Japan relations as the chief guest.
Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Iwama Kiminori spoke as special guest and FBCCI President Mahbubul Alam spoke as the guest of honour at the discussion held at Japanese Embassy, marking the official launch of the Pan-Asia Research Institute (PARI).
Former ambassadors of Bangladesh to Japan Jamil Majid and Ashraf-Ud-Doula; Apex Footwear Ltd Managing Director Syed Nasim Manzur; Dhaka University International Relations Department Chairperson Dr Lailufar Yasmin; Foreign Ministry’s East Asia and Pacific Wing Director Sayem Ahmed; JICA Bangladesh Senior Representative Eiji Yamada; Japanese Commerce and Industry Association in Dhaka (JCIAD) President Tetsuro Kano; and Japan-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JBCCI) Secretary General Md Anwar Shahid were present as panelists.
At the event, Shahriar Alam mentioned the investment, presence of a growing number of Japanese companies and cooperation in the Matarbari project.
“We see these brilliant infrastructure projects supported by Japan as solutions to many of the problems the country and its people have been facing,” he said.
Earlier, the government of Bangladesh said drastic reduction in humanitarian assistance for the persecuted Rohingya population, which is growing with around 30,000 newborns every year in the camps, is compounding the crisis.
Further delay to commence safe, voluntary and sustainable repatriation and shortage of humanitarian support may put the entire region at risk, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said.
The socio-economic, demographic and environmental cost of sheltering more than 1.2 million Rohingyas for such a long time is pushing Bangladesh to the limit, the ministry said.
These forcibly displaced people have aspirations and rights to return to their homeland in a safe and sustainable manner.
The state minister said the achievements of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina are absolutely phenomenal and such achievements come with some challenges.
“Bangladesh needs to uphold the high aspirations of the people. We have delivered so much and people will be expecting us to do even more to double what we have achieved over the last 50 years,” he said.
“It is not going to be easy. Only friends like Japan can help us to achieve that goal,” Shahriar Alam said.
He said Bangladesh and Japan will surely work collectively and walk together on the journey for achieving a mutually beneficial future for both countries and their peoples.
The state minister said Bangladesh and Japan have presently more than just a G2G (government-to-government) partnership.
“It is growing every passing day, and today it includes C2C (country-to-country), P2P (people-to-people) and B2B (business-to-business) ties. Most importantly, P2P partnership is playing a vital role,” he said.
From here, the newly-launched think tank PARI can significantly contribute to the improvement of the Japan-Bangladesh relationship, he hoped.
“Our country being rich in all the three aspects is considered to be a vast market for Japan,” said the state minister.
Bangladesh has been elected one of the four candidate countries of the newly established Official Security Assistance (OSA) to deepen military ties, said the Japanese Ambassador.
"This shows how much importance Japan attaches to Bangladesh," he said.
Apart from “Official Development Assistance (ODA)” which aims for the economic and social development of developing countries, Japan decided to establish a new cooperation framework “Official Security Assistance (OSA)” for the benefit of armed forces and other related organizations by providing materials and equipment as well as assistance for infrastructures development based on the security needs of the countries.
OSA is referred to in the new “National Security Strategy” approved by the Cabinet on 16 December 2022.
Ambassador Kiminori said a common dedication to promoting peace and stability in the area and beyond characterises the relationship between Japan and Bangladesh.
To do this, both countries place an emphasis on cooperation, making diplomatic efforts and working together to address regional security concerns, he said.
The connectivity and overall relationship between Japan and Bangladesh will therefore improve as a result, said the ambassador.
According to the Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, PARI and similar research institutions can serve to improve ties between Japan and Bangladesh.
On the other hand, new facilities will also improve Bangladesh's connections with Japan, he added.
Speakers at the event highlighted people-to-people connectivity as the key factor in materialising Japan-Bangladesh strategic partnership.
Trade barriers to foreign direct investment (FDI), investment-friendly business climate, skills development for harnessing the scope for manpower migration, Japan’s assistance in plugging the potential of the blue economy and marine resources should also be in focus, they said.
PARI, a Japan-based multi-modal Asia and Pacific-focused think tank, was launched in Bangladesh through the roundtable discussion styled ‘Materialising Japan-Bangladesh Strategic Partnership: Diplomatic, Economic and People-to-People Relations’.
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) director (local investment promotion) Md Arifur Rahman, Prof. Mohammed Ansarul Alam of Institute of Modern Languages at Dhaka University, Bangladesh IKEBANA Association president Shahinoor Baby, Kokorozashi Japanese Language School principal Okabayashi Kuniaki, Hiroki Watanabe of Ekmatra, Kazuko Bhuiyan Trust manager Masudur Rahaman, The Financial Express senior news consultant M Aminul Islam and Dhaka University student Fahmida Binte Faruque, among others, also delivered speeches as discussants during four different sessions.
PARI president Yuji Ando, PARI vice-president Tareq Rafi Bhuiyan Jun and PARI executive director Dr Abdullah-Al-Mamun moderated the sessions.
A host of panelists, including noted Japanologists, academics, bureaucrats, journalists, cultural activists and representatives of youth organisations, also joined the flagship event.
PARI carries out multi-stakeholder research and analytical works on a whole gamut of socio-political, economic, business interests and bilateral as well as multilateral diplomatic issues with particular importance to the changing geopolitical reality of the pan-Asia region.