Projects being implemented with the financial and technical assistance of Japan will change the image of Bangladesh in the global arena, Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Naoki Ito has said.
He described Japan as the biggest development partner and a loyal friend of Bangladesh while speaking at a seminar on Wednesday.
The seminar, "Japanese Experience of Economic Development: Implications for Bangladesh", was held to mark 50 years of bilateral ties between the two countries and the centenary of the University of Dhaka.The Department of Japanese Studies at the University of Dhaka, Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and the Japanese embassy in Bangladesh organised the event.
Naoki said several mega projects, including the metro rail, the third terminal of Dhaka airport, the Japanese economic zone in Narayanganj's Araihazar and Matarbari power plant and deep sea port, were being implemented with Japanese aid.
He said the deep sea port would be a business hub in the entire Bay of Bengal area, apart from neighbouring India and Myanmar, once it was fully operational.
The envoy said his country would not only be a partner in Bangladesh's infrastructural developmentbut also in research and cultural exchange for knowledge sharing.
Japan would also learn from Bangladesh's experience in these areas, he said.
Naoki said Bangladesh would be able to take advantage of its population dividend for another 10 years, adding that Japan's industrial policy could be a model for Bangladesh in achieving industrial development.
Recalling that Japan became a development partner of Bangladesh through Jica back in 1973, he said this trend would continue in the future as well.
Yuho Hayakawa, chief representative at Jica Bangladesh office, said Japan had been investing in various sectors of Bangladesh and would increase investment in environmental protection and climate change in the future.
Professor Dr Kenichi Ohno of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Japan presented the keynote paper. He said Vietnam had attained economic development by following the Japanese model and Bangladesh could do the same if it wanted.
But he warned that fully duplicating a model would not produce good results.
A model should be customised so that it met the specific needs of the adopter, he said.
Referring to the readymade garment industry, he said Bangladesh must focus on increasing productivity like Vietnam.
"Bangladesh should also increase value addition, which will help profits to grow. In addition, it has to increase its ability to make high-end apparels."
ABM Razaul Karim Faquire, director of the Institute of Modern Languages at the University of Dhaka, said Bangladesh could emulate the Japanese model in primary education.
Economist Dr Abul Barkat said Bangladesh could utilise the experience of how Japan had taken its economy forward by signing free trade deals with different countries and regions.
Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman, vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, was the chief guest at the seminar. He said Bangladesh would graduate from the status of a least developed country in 2026 and then advance towards becoming a developed country.
"In collaboration with Japan, the University of Dhaka will contribute to new fields of knowledge," he added.