‘Japan has a special place in our hearts’
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh and Japan successfully elevated their bilateral relations to a strategic partnership.
"We are happy that Bangladesh and Japan have successfully elevated the bilateral relations to a 'Strategic Partnership' from the existing 'Comprehensive Partnership'," she said in a joint statement after a meeting with her Japanese counterpart Kishida Fumio in Tokyo, reports UNB.
The two sides signed eight agreements and memorandums of cooperation on agriculture, metro rail, industrial upgrade, ship recycling, customs, intellectual properties, defence cooperation, and ICT and cyber security, reports BSS.
At the meeting with the Japanese prime minister, Hasina mentioned how the presence of a large number of Rohingyas in Bangladesh was affecting the lives and livelihoods of the local communities and requested Japan to use its channel of communication with Myanmar to find a durable solution.
Kishida said, "Bangladesh has sheltered over one million displaced persons from Myanmar, and we will continue to support its endeavour."
He added that both the countries will work to increase bilateral relations in different areas and expand cooperation in the international community.
The countries, as strategic partners, have expressed their commitment to uphold free and open international order based on the rule of law at a time when the international order stands at a historic turning point, he said.
"In the economic field, we agreed to make every progress through joint studies on the possibilities of Japan-Bangladesh Economic Partnership Agreement," he said.
Bangladesh's remarkable economic development makes it an attractive investment destination, and the establishment of economic zones and improvement of the investment environment will further strengthen economic relations between the two countries.
The prime ministers also discussed the Moheshkhali-Matarbari Integrated Infrastructure Development Initiative and the BIG-B Initiative, which aims to connect the Bay of Bengal and the neighbouring regions and to accelerate industrial agglomeration in Dhaka, Chattogram and Cox's Bazar and beyond.
The prime ministers expect the initiative, which will make use of Japan's advanced technologies and development experiences, to yield mutual benefits and prosperity for both the countries.
Hasina announced that the Dhaka-Narita direct flights would start operation by this year.
The excellent understanding, friendship and cooperation that exist between the people and governments of the two countries would grow stronger in the years ahead, she said as she thanked the Japanese government for being one of the largest development partners of Bangladesh.
Japan has a very special place in the hearts of Bangladeshi people. It is among the few countries that gave early recognition to Bangladesh after its liberation, she said.
"The historic visit of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Japan in October 1973 laid the foundation of our lasting friendship."
Kishida received Hasina at the entrance hall of the Japanese Prime Minister's Office. Japan rolled out the red carpet and gave her the guard of honour at the airport.
After the 3.5-hour meeting, both the prime ministers signed the joint statement.
Briefing reporters in Tokyo, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said the new strategic partnership will be a framework for the countries' diplomatic relations in the next 50 years.
Through the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt, Japan will help Bangladesh strengthen regional connectivity, infrastructure development, and improve the environment for investment, he said, adding that Japan will make more investment in Bangladesh.
Japan's PM Kishida announced Tk 2,400 crore for Bangladesh's budget support and he accepted PM Hasina's invitation to visit Bangladesh.
State Minister Shahriar Alam said with Japan's support, Matarbari is becoming a transport and energy hub. North-east India, Nepal and Bhutan can also be connected through Matarbari.
PM MEETS JAPAN EMPEROR
Hasina met Japan Emperor of Naruhito at the Imperial Palace at 3:00pm local time, her Deputy Press Secretary KM Shakhawat Hossain told BSS.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi among other dignitaries paid separate calls on the prime minister at Akasaka Palace.