Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will pay a two-day official visit to Bangladesh from September 6 to discuss bilateral issues.
Dhaka is considering the trip highly significant as it comes at a time when Japan is looking for another investment destination after China.
“There is a positive indication that Japan wants to relocate its industries to Bangladesh and make fresh investments here instead of other countries,” a diplomat in Dhaka told The Daily Star yesterday.
During an official tour to Japan on May 25-28, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had invited Abe to visit Bangladesh.
This will be the first visit to Bangladesh by any head of government since the Awami League was reelected through the January 5 one-sided polls. This will also be the first Bangladesh tour by any Japanese PM in last 14 years after the visit by Yoshirō Mori in 2000.
Diplomatic sources said the Japanese PM will also visit Sri Lanka after Bangladesh apparently to mobilise support for his country's candidacy for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 2016-17 period.
Abe is expected to discuss Japan's candidacy as an UNSC member with the leaders of the two South Asian countries as only one UN member state from the Asia-Pacific region can win a seat at the council and Bangladesh has expressed its interest to contest the seat.
According to a highly placed source, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to announce withdrawal of her country's candidacy for the Security Council seat.
Speaking at a news conference hosted by the Japan National Press Club, Hasina had hinted that Bangladesh would withdraw its candidacy before the election to the Security Council in 2015, saying, “Bangladesh is ready to make any sacrifice for a trusted friend.”
TWO DELEGATIONS DUE
Ahead of Abe's visit to Dhaka, Tokyo is sending two high-powered delegations to discuss with Bangladesh officials the mega projects proposed by Hasina during her trip to Japan nearly three months ago.
The Japan Economic Mission will hold a meeting at Economic Relations Division on August 18 to discuss the projects to be implemented with ¥600 billion Japanese assistance.
The mission will also discuss a range of specific projects including construction of Ganges Barrage, multi-modal tunnel under river Jamuna, dedicated railway bridge over the Jamuna, multi-modal Dhaka Eastern Bypass and ecological restoration of four rivers around the capital.
Led by the secretary of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industries, the other delegation will hold a dialogue at the Prime Minister's Office on August 21 on Japanese investment in Bangladesh. A senior secretary at the PMO will lead the Bangladesh delegation at the meeting.
Sources said the Japanese side will discuss the Bangladesh government's commitment to provide Japan with an Exclusive Economic Zone. Japan wanted a big area near Dhaka or Chittagong for setting up industries.
The world economic giant has already secured some industrial plots from Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority.
Meanwhile, an inter-ministerial meeting at the foreign ministry yesterday discussed preparations for Abe's ensuing visit to Dhaka.