Japan wants to build stronger ties with Bangladesh taking important milestones ahead as opportunities to support Bangladesh's overall development.
"Japan will continue to support Bangladesh’s development, as it directly leads to the overall stability of Bay of Bengal and Indo-Pacific region," said Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki.
He noted 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, the Ambassador said the year 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 deepen mutual understanding and exchanges of people between Japan and Bangladesh," Ambassador Naoki said.
In a message marking completion of his first year in Bangladesh, the Ambassador said they also continue to ensure the safety and security of the Japanese nationals visiting and living in Bangladesh.
"It has been already one year since my arrival in Bangladesh as Ambassador of Japan last October. Looking back the past year’s development in our bilateral relations, high-level exchanges and dialogues proceeded in a wide range of areas," said the Japanese Ambassador.
In October 2019, President Md. Abdul Hamid and his wife attended the enthronement ceremony of His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito.
Also, Minister of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmad visited Japan in the same month.
State Minister for Youth and Sports Zahid Ahsan Russel’s visit on the occasion of 2019 Rugby World Cup.
In August 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had a teleconference.
"We would appreciate your opinion and cooperation toward building stronger ties between Japan and Bangladesh," said Ambassador Naoki.
He said since March this year COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting 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, Naoki said.
Japanese government signed an agreement to provide Bangladesh government with the COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Budget Support Loan for JPY 35 billion (Approximately USD 330 million) in August.
In addition, Japan provided medical equipment for healthcare sectors as well as emergency support through international organizations, said the Ambassador.
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 USD 3.2 billion) was signed in August, he said.
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.
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 symbolize the future of Bangladesh once they are completed, said the Japanese envoy.
"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," he said.
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," said Ambassador Naoki.