Japan includes Bangladesh in OSA to enhance defence cooperation

State minister for foreign affairs Shahariar Alam (Left) and Japanese ambassador in Dhaka Iwama Kiminori (2nd from the left) at a roundtable styled ‘Materialising Japan-Bangladesh Strategic Partnership: Diplomatic, Economic and People-to-People Relations at the Multipurpose Hall of the Japan embassy in Dhaka on Saturday.
Courtesy: Japanese embassy

Japanese ambassador in Dhaka Iwama Kiminori said Japan has included Bangladesh in the Official Security Assistance (OSA) project to enhance defence cooperation.

Bangladesh is one of four countries which have been included in this new programme in the first year.

He disclosed this while speaking as a special guest at the concluding session of a roundtable at the Multipurpose Hall of the Japan embassy in Dhaka on Saturday.

The Pan-Asia Research Institute (PARI), a Japan-based multi-modal Asia and Pacific-focused think tank which was launched today, organised the roundtable discussion styled ‘Materialising Japan-Bangladesh Strategic Partnership: Diplomatic, Economic and People-to-People Relations".

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina visited Japan in April this year. After the meeting with Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida, the relations between the two countries reached a strategic level.

The issue of including Bangladesh in the OSA was mentioned in the declaration of joint statement following the meeting. 

The Japanese ambassador Iwama Kiminori said Bangladesh has been included in the OSA to strengthen defence cooperation with the defence force and related organisations.

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The Japanese ambassador said Bangladesh has been included in the OSA to strengthen cooperation with the defence force and related organisations. Positive discussions have recently been held on the enhancement of defence cooperation especially on exchange of armour and technology.

He said a joint study group was formed in December last year to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).Meanwhile, discussions have been held twice. The study group launched the EPA soon after completing the round phase discussion.

The Japanese ambassador said sending of Japanese volunteers to Bangladesh will begin at the end of this year.

Speaking as the chief guest, state minister Shahriar Alam said Bengali justice Radha Binod Paul, a resident of Kushtia, laid the foundation of Bangladesh-Japan relations.

In the context of World War-II, the role he played in the judicial system, Japanese still remember that. It is also noted that Japanese students saved money allocated for their tiffin and provided that money for the Bangladeshi refugees during the war of liberation in 1971.

Shahariar Alam said Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Dhaka in 2014 and prime minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Japan in 2023 have taken the relation between two countries to a new height. Trade and investment between two countries have increased. Trade between two countries has crossed USD 4 billion for the first time.

The state minister said the activities of Dhaka's connectivity with the north-eastern region of India are ongoing. Japan is providing financial support to increase this connectivity. Bangladesh and Japan will advance in the days to come.

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Experts in the public and private sectors at the official launch of the Pan-Asia Research Institute (PARI) on Saturday highlighted that people-to-people connectivity as the key factor in materialising Japan-Bangladesh strategic partnership.

They said trade barriers to foreign direct investment (FDI), investment-friendly business climate, skills development for harnessing the scope for manpower migration, Japan’s assistance in plugging the potential of blue economy and marine resources should also be in focus.

FBCCI president Mahbubul Alam was present as the guest of honour.

Former ambassadors of Bangladesh to Japan Jamil Majid and Ashraf-Ud-Doula, Apex Footwear Ltd managing director Syed Nasim Manzur, Dhaka University International Relations department chairperson Lailufar Yasmin, foreign ministry’s East Asia and Pacific Wing director Sayem Ahmed, JICA Bangladesh senior representative Eiji Yamada, Japanese Commerce and Industry Association in Dhaka (JCIAD) president Tetsuro Kano, and Japan-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JBCCI) secretary general Md Anwar Shahid were present as panellists.

The state minister Shahriar Alam said Japan and Bangladesh are presently more than just a G2G (government-to-government) partnership.

It is growing every passing day, and today it includes C2C (country-to-country), P2P (people-to-people) and B2B (business-to-business) ties. Most importantly, P2P partnership is playing a vital role.

From here, the newly-launched think tank PARI can significantly contribute to the improvement of the Japan-Bangladesh relationship.

He further said that a country's economic health may be determined by its exports, agriculture, and labour force.

Alam said, “Our country being rich in all the three aspects is considered to be a vast market for Japan.”

Kiminori said a common dedication to promoting peace and stability in the area and beyond characterises the relationship between Japan and Bangladesh. To do this, both countries place an emphasis on cooperation, making diplomatic efforts and working together to address regional security concerns.

The connectivity and overall relationship between Japan and Bangladesh will therefore improve.

According to the Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, PARI and similar research institutions can serve to improve ties between Japan and Bangladesh. On the other hand, new facilities will also improve Bangladesh's connections with Japan, he added.

Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) director (local investment promotion) Md Arifur Rahman, professor Mohammed Ansarul Alam, Bangladesh IKEBANA Association president Shahinoor Baby, Kokorozashi Japanese Language School principal Okabayashi Kuniaki, Hiroki Watanabe of Ekmatra, Kazuko Bhuiyan Trust manager Masudur Rahaman and The Financial Express senior news consultant M Aminul Islam and Dhaka University student Fahmida Binte Faruque, among others, also delivered their speeches as discussants during four different sessions.

PARI president Yuji Ando, PARI vice-president Tareq Rafi Bhuiyan Jun and PARI executive director Abdullah-Al-Mamun moderated the sessions.

A host of panelists, including noted Japanologists, academics, bureaucrats, journalists, cultural activists and representatives of youth organisations, also joined the flagship event.

The PARI carries out multi-stakeholder research and analytical works on a whole gamut of socio-political, economic, business interests and bilateral as well as multilateral diplomatic issues with particular importance to the changing geopolitical reality of the pan-Asia region.