JICA sees its relations with Bangladesh in the next five years “extremely important” as it is helping the country reach the next level of development with the completion of a number of mega projects, says a senior official at the JICA headquarters.
“JICA will continue its strong support towards infrastructure and social development sectors,” Director of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) South Asia Division Takahashi Akito told UNB at his office in Tokyo.
The JICA official laid emphasis on linking such infrastructure development to the economic growth “very efficiently.”
Explaining the importance of the next five years in Bangladesh-Japan relations, Akito mentioned the Vision 2021 target of Bangladesh, the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-Japan diplomatic relations in 2022, 50 years anniversary of JICA volunteers in 2023, opening of Matarbari port and Matarbari coal-fired power project and other mega projects, including the opening of the much-hyped metro rail service.
“This period is very important for Bangladesh’s next stage of development,” said the JICA official who is looking into Bangladesh affairs in Tokyo.
Responding to a question, the official said Bangladesh is located in a strategically very important place and connectivity plays an important role. “We’re supporting to further strengthen the connectivity in the region.”
In the future, he said they hope to provide support for integrated development of Maheshkhali-Matarbari area to make it an energy and power hub in the region.
Maheshkhali-Matarbari area is the core area BIG-B (the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt) initiative which consists of logistic, power, energy and waterfront industry hub, said the official.
Highly appreciating Bangladesh’s economic progress over the past years, Akito said they are very proud to see Bangladesh as one of the most successful countries to achieve higher economic growth in the region.
The JICA official, however, said there are some challenges ahead for Bangladesh that need to be addressed to continue the growth trend and making the growth sustainable.
Citing sole dependence on readymade garment industry, Akito said the diversification of industry is one of the key issues to achieve further economic development.
In order to further promote Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the JICA official said the improvement of procedures to create an appropriate environment for foreign companies is essential.
He also laid emphasis on human development-boosting capacity to contribute to the need and the greater growth of the country.
Talking about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he appreciated Bangladesh government’s efforts and mentioned that almost all the projects are linked with the SDGs. “I hope your country will be successful and JICA will continue supporting Bangladesh to achieve such goals.”
As an international organisation, the JICA official said, they are closely watching the Rohingya situation in Bangladesh. “We should provide appropriate and quick support to the refugee crisis, through the ongoing projects.”
He said JICA and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) constructed a deep borehole and a water distribution system in Kutupalong camp.
This is the largest water supply system at the Rohingya camp which can supply safe water to nearly 30,000 people.
JICA, which started a “long and rewarding” relationship with Bangladesh by sending three volunteers in 1973, also supports the host community through local government, said the official.
Past Japan Ambassador to Bangladesh Hiroyasu Izumi, before leaving Dhaka, said Rohingya issue is not an isolated phenomenon, rather deeply related with growing nationalistic political trend and the world must find a solution for Rohingyas.
“It goes without saying that the Rohingyas are also victims of the prevailing egocentric nationalism or populism. Of course, I believe, the world can never be a jungle,” he said, adding that the civilised world must find a sustainable solution to bring justice for Rohingyas.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered Bangladesh since 25 August 2017.