Japanese ambassador Ito Naoki at DCAB talk
Suvra Kanti Das

The Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, Ito Naoki, has said that he hoped the government will take steps for an election better than last time, and a free and fair election. This aspiration for a free and fair election must be continuously highlighted before the concerned quarters in the government. The news media must also be ensured of the space to function.

The ambassador expressed this hope while replying to questions at the DCAB (Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh) talk held on Tuesday morning at the National Press Club in the capital.

When asked about his expectation concerning the next election in Bangladesh, Ito Naoki said the election is scheduled to be held at the end of next year. The media reports on this issue regularly, creating interest among the diplomats.

He further said that he had noted certain positive measures taken by the government regarding the election. These included the enactment of new laws and the reconstitution of the election commission. "That is why I hope that the election will be better than the last time and that the government will take measures for a free and fair election," he said.

The ambassador said, you may be surprised to hear that immediately after the December 2018 elections, the Japanese embassy in Dhaka had issued statements expressing its concern. The main issue of concern was about violence during the election. It is imperative that every citizen be able to exercise the right to vote. There is no way that the role of the media in this situation can be underrated.

Ambassador Ito Naoki went on to say during discussions with representatives of the government, he had emphasised that Japan wanted to see a comparatively good, free and fair election in Bangladesh. "I will continue to highlight this expectation for free and fair elections before the concerned persons in the government."

He also said that it was important in the interests of a good election to ensure that the media could function freely. It was important for the media to reflect the aspirations of the people.

Referring to laws related to the media, he said that there was contention among the journalists at present regarding the Digital Security Act and that is why there should be the scope for the journalists to work freely from now till the election.