Bangladesh and Japan have agreed to further intensify their existing excellent ties and work towards building a strategic relationship.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Thursday had an extensive meeting with Japanese Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Hiroshi Suzuki as part of regular Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) to comprehensively discuss the bilateral relations and regional and global issues of common interest, said a foreign ministry press release.
During the meeting, the foreign secretary was accompanied by Mashfee Binte Shams, secretary (East) of the foreign ministry, and Khondker M Talha, director general (DG) of the foreign ministry's East Asia and Pacific wing.
The Bangladesh delegation also included Munira Sultana, DG (additional secretary) of the Prime Minister's Office; Md Ashraf Ali Khan, joint secretary of the Economic Relations Division; Zinat Ara, joint secretary of the Ministry of Commerce; and Lieutenant Colonel Zillur Rahman from the Armed Forces Division.
As part of building stronger bonds, Japan suggested to partner with Bangladesh in further developing the southern Chattagram area centring the Matarbari projects.
Both sides agreed that these projects, being implemented under Japan's Big-B initiative, have potentials to benefit not only Bangladesh but also connect the entire region.
The foreign secretary briefed the meeting on how Bangladesh has been working to resolve the difficulties faced by foreign investors.
In this regard, Minister Suzuki appreciated the initiatives taken by the principal secretary to the prime minister under the Private Public Economic Dialogue (PPED) to particularly look into the problems of the Japanese investors and resolved most of the problem despite the pandemic induced constraints.
The foreign secretary expressed hope that these initiatives would encourage more Japanese investment particularly in the areas of agriculture, especially jute, ICT and high-tech industries, blue economy, health and human resource development. Japan is also keen to support capacity development in maritime security, disaster management and enhance cooperation in defense matters.
The two sides discussed the possibility of concluding an FTA, particularly in view of Bangladesh's impending graduation from the LDC status.
Japan reassured Bangladesh that it will continue its GSP scheme in the post-graduation period, the release said.
The foreign secretary also appraised Biman's plan to resume its flights to Tokyo. Minister Suzuki welcomed the idea and stated that the proposed air-link would help greater people to people contact and promote businesses.
At that time the Japanese envoy also appreciated Biman operating flights for repatriation of the nationals of both countries during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Masud Bin Momen expressed his gratitude to Japan for the Covid-related assistance extended by the country including direct budgetary support on top of the highest ever ODA loan package of 338 billion Japanese Yen in 2020.
He also requested the Japanese government for the continuation of the budgetary support for next five years.
The foreign secretary stressed the urgency for early repatriation of the Rohingyas to their ancestral homes in the Rakhaine state of Myanmar.
In this regard, the foreign secretary urged Japan to persuade Myanmar and the international community to create a conducive environment in Myanmar for the safe return of the displaced Rohingyas.
The Japanese side stated that they also wanted to see an early return of the Rohingyas and assured of their continued engagement in this regard.
Both Bangladesh and Japan agreed to foster greater cooperation in international forums including the UN.
Bangladesh reiterated its support for Japan's bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
Lauding Bangladesh's leadership in climate change discourse Minister Suzuki offered assistance for Bangladesh's transition to clean energy. He also briefed on Japan's vision of Free and Open Indo-Pacific and elaborated on the peace and development dimension of the vision.
During the meeting, both sides recalled Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's groundbreaking visit to Japan in 1973 which laid the rock-solid foundation of the bilateral relations.
They also discussed about Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's participation at an event celebrating Bangabandhu's birth centenary and the golden jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh.
During the meeting, the two sides agreed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations in 2022 in a befitting manner including through exchange of high-level visits as well.