A year has passed since Ambassador Ito Naoki assumed his post as Japan's top representative to Bangladesh.
Marking the occasion in a press release issued by the Embassy of Japan on Saturday, the Japanese ambassador said, "Looking back at the past year's development in our bilateral relations, high-level exchanges and dialogues proceeded in a wide range of areas."
"In October 2019, Honourable President Md Abdul Hamid and Mrs Hamid attended the enthronement ceremony of His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito. Also, Honourable Minister of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, Imran Ahmad visited Japan in the same month," he continued.
"Honourable State Minister for Youth and Sports Zahid Ahsan Russel visited on the occasion of 2019 Rugby World Cup. In August 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Honourable Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina had a teleconference," he added.
Ambassador Ito Naoki stated, "Since March this year, the Covid-19 pandemic has been affecting our interactions in various fields such as economic activities and cultural exchanges. However, even during this challenging time, Japan has been supporting Bangladesh in its fight against the pandemic."
"The Japanese government signed to provide the Bangladesh government with the Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Budget Support Loan for JPY 35 billion [approximately $330 million] in August. In addition, Japan provided medical equipment for healthcare sectors as well as emergency support through international organisations," he added.
The release further read, "Besides Japan's contributions to tackle Covid-19, the year 2020 was remarkable in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA) from Japan to Bangladesh, as the largest ever annual ODA loan package of JPY 338 billion [approximately $3.2 billion] was signed in August."
"This year's loan package comprises assistance to projects including Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Expansion, Jamuna Railway Bridge Construction, and Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Highway Improvement," he continued.
These large-scale infrastructure projects, in addition to ongoing deep-sea port construction in Matarbari, are essential for the development of Bangladeshi industries and will symbolise the future of Bangladesh once they are completed, the release read.
Japan will continue to support Bangladesh's development, as it directly leads to the overall stability of the Bay of Bengal and Indo-Pacific region, it stated.
Ambassador Ito Naoki added, "In the field of business relationship, I am happy to note that more than 300 Japanese companies are currently operating in Bangladesh, and the number has tripled over the past 10 years. The direct investment from Japan has also been doubled in 8 years."
"I am eager to work further on improving the business environment to make the trade and investment between Japan and Bangladesh more robust," he added.
He continued, "The year 2020 marks the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and 2021 is the 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh. Further ahead, 2022 is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Bangladesh."
"Taking these milestones as opportunities, I would like to continue to devote myself to further deepening mutual understanding and exchanges of people between Japan and Bangladesh," he stated.
The ambassador added, "We also continue to ensure the safety and security of the Japanese nationals visiting and living in Bangladesh. We would appreciate your opinion and cooperation toward building stronger ties between Japan and Bangladesh."