This year marks the 38th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Japan. The past thirty eight years have witnessed a steady growth of close cooperation between our two countries. Although bilateral diplomatic interactions are relatively recent phenomena, the ties between the two nations are centuries old through historic and cultural connections.
1971, the year of our liberation war, marks an watershed in Bangladesh-Japan friendship. During the war the Japanese people extended immense support. The great friend of Bangladesh Late Mr. Takashi Hayakawa MP played a leading role in Bangladesh’s support. According to his wish his ashes are kept in Bangladesh. The people of Bangladesh nurture enduring gratitude for all Japanese who stood by us in our trying hours. A bond of mutual goodwill and respect has since developed between the two peoples.
Japan was among the countries that recognized Bangladesh soon after the independence and established diplomatic relations on 10 February 1972. Early that year both countries opened Embassies in each other’s capital. The first ever highest level visit from Bangladesh was undertaken by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1973, as the Prime Minister of a free and independent Bangladesh. Since then our two countries’ relations have developed steadily and satisfactorily and never looked back.
Bangladesh and Japan have shared views on many key international issues and closely worked for promoting global peace and stability. Both our countries have important contributions in the UN peace keeping operations. Bangladesh supports Japan’s permanent membership in UN Security Council and appreciates its role as an observer of SAARC that anchors it to the region as a bona fide partner. The relations with Japan are of priority for us and both countries are already engaged to exploit the high potentials for further deepening and widening cooperation.
Japan Bangladesh Parliamentary League actively promotes mutual friendship between the two countries. H.E. Mr. Taro Aso, the incumbent Prime Minister of Japan, assumed the office of the President of the parliamentary body last year reflecting the confidence of Japan in Bangladesh’s potentials.
Bangladesh is deeply appreciative of the Government and the people of Japan for standing by its side over the last 38 years as the leading development partner. Japan has been greatly instrumental in our economic infrastructure building; poverty alleviation efforts and human resources development. Japan aided infrastructures including bridges in Bangladesh have directly helped its economy to grow at healthy rates.
Japan has been a major contributor to our successful poverty alleviation efforts. Japan has also helped in our human resources development. Today hundreds of trainees from Bangladesh who have been trained in Japan are helping build a better Bangladesh. Most of them speak fluent Japanese. We would like Japan to continue and broaden assistance in our education sector particularly in science, IT and emerging technology.
There are more examples of Japanese assistance presenting Bangladesh as a role model of successful utilization of ODA. Bangladesh has welcomed the decision of the Government of Japan for providing substantially enhanced project loans of US$ 440 million this year. We hope the present flow of ODA to Bangladesh will continue in the future too.
Japan is also a major trading partner and source of foreign direct investment. Although the volume of bilateral trade and investment is yet to reach the full potentials, joint and new efforts may substantially raise the level for mutual gains. Bangladesh offers enhanced investment support services, incentives, large market, inexpensive workforce and quality export products as evidenced in JETRO studies recognizing the country with lowest cost of doing business and capable of supplying IT products for Japan. Big businesses like NTT Docomo, UNIQLO, SEIYU, Ito Yokado, NITORI, and Mitsubishi have started or negotiating for doing business in Bangladesh. More such delegations also bear the testimony of the hard work and relentless efforts this mission has put in to motivate and encourage the big Japanese companies to invest and doing business in Bangladesh.
Private sectors of the two countries have also developed close cooperation over the years. Japan-Bangladesh Committee of Economic and Commercial Cooperation (JBCCEC) hold its sessions in Tokyo and Dhaka alternately to discuss and review business and investment issues. Bangladesh encourages increased Japanese investment including relocation of facilities in expensive locations elsewhere. An exclusive EPZ for the Japanese entrepreneurs may also be set up.
Tourism is an area our two countries can cooperate to further promote the friendship, goodwill and exchange between the people. From time immemorial, travelers visited Bangladesh attracted by its charm and fame. It is a country of immense scenic natural beauty and rich flora and fauna. The land and nature that takes variety of shades as the six seasons visit throughout the year. Bangladesh also has ancient history and rich tradition, culture, heritage, art and literature. Today’s modern Bangladesh and its people embody all these characteristics and make an attractive place for the Japanese tourists who also have long history, rich culture and tradition; particularly the Buddhist archeological sites would be of great delights for them.
There are more than 10,000 Bangladesh nationals living in Japan and are engaged in various activities including business, employment, research and academic related pursuits. There are also good number of Japanese people living in Bangladesh who, too, are involved in various activities such as business, employment and voluntary services. These expatriate nationals are providing valuable contribution to the strengthening of people to people contact and are building a strong bridge of friendship between Bangladesh and Japan. In order to harness the potentials and strength of Bangladesh businessmen living in Japan, this Mission helped launch a Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan in 2007. The chamber has already started playing an important role towards increased bilateral trade and investment, between the two countries.
There is a cultural agreement between our two countries and also a cultural exchange programme under the agreement. Both the government may facilitate more exchanges in the field of culture that would further reinforce our friendship.
There has been regular exchange of visits between the two countries since our independence. The visits not only added visibility of excellent friendly relations but also contributed to the steady growth of close multifarious cooperation between Bangladesh and Japan. The important two way visits are enumerated below.
Visit to Bangladesh
- 1972 Members of Japanese Parliament led by Mr. Takashi Hayakawa
- 1975 Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess
- 1977 Foreign Minister Iichiro Hatoyama
- Special Envoy Mr. Takashi Hayakawa
- 1980 Special Envoy Takashi Hayakawa
- Kazuo Aichi, Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs
- 1983 Yozo Ishikawa, Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs
- Special Envoy Daisuke Akita
- 1987 Foreign Minister Tadashi Kuranari
- 1989 Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda
- 1990 Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu
- 1994 Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, President of the Japan Bangladesh Parliamentarians League
- 1995 Hakuo Yanagisawa, Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs
- 1996 Shin Sakurai, Vice President of the Japan Bangladesh Parliamentarians League
- 1998 Shin Sakurai, Vice President of the Japan Bangladesh Parliamentarians League
- 2000 Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, Shin Sakurai, Vice President of the Japan
- Bangladesh Parliamentarians League
- 2001 Shin Sakurai, Vice President of the Japan Bangladesh Parliamentarians League
- 2002 Special Envoy Shin Sakurai
- 2003 Shin Sakurai, Acting President of the Japan Bangladesh Parliamentarians League
- 2004 Shin Sakurai, Acting President of Japan Bangladesh Parliamentarians League 2005 Senior Vice Foreign Minister Shuzen Tanigawa
- Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichiro Aisawa
- Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture Takayoshi Tsuneda
- 2006 Shin Sakurai, President of Japan Bangladesh Parliamentarians League
- Former Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura
- Foreign Minister Taro Aso
- Deputy Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka
- 2009 State Foreign Secretary Ms. Seiko Hashimoto
Visit to Japan
- 1973 Prime Minister Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
- 1978 President Ziaur Rahman
- 1980 President Ziaur Rahman
- 1985 President H. M. Ershad
- 1989 President H. M. Ershad
- 1990 President H. M. Ershad
- 1994 Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia
- 1995 Foreign Minister A. S. M. Mustafizur Rahman
- 1997 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
- Finance Minister S. A. M. S. Kibria
- 1998 Foreign Minister Abdus Samad Azad
- 2000 Foreign Minister Abdus Samad Azad
- 2001 Science and ICT Minister Dr. Abdul Moyeen Khan
- Woman and Children Affairs Minister Begum Khurshid Zahan Hoque
- 2002 Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan
- 2003 Social Welfare Minister Ali. Ahsan. Muhammad Mujaheed
- Water Resource Minister L. K. Siddiqui
- Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan
- Fisheries and Livestock Minister Sadek Hossain Khoka
- 2005 Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia
- Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. Khondoker Mosharof Hossain
- Science and ICT Minister Dr. Abdul Moyeen Khan
- 2006 State Minister for Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Qamrul Islam
- State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar
- Foreign Affairs Adviser Riaz Rahman
- 2007 Adviser for Finance Dr. Mirza Md. Azizul Islam
- 2010 Hon’ble Prime Minister H. E. Sheikh Hasina
- 2012 Hon’ble Finance Minister H.E. Abul Maal A. Muhith
- 2012 Hon’ble Minister for Commerce H.E. Ghulam Muhammed Quader
- 2012 Hon’ble Minister for Food & Disaster Management Dr. Muhammed Abdur Razzaque
- 2012 Hon’ble Minister for Housing and Public Works Advocate Abdul Mannan Khan
- 1973 Exchange of Notes on the Dispatch of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers
- 1978 Agreement for the Exchange of International Money Orders 1980 Agreement for Air Services
- 1982 Cultural Agreement
- 1991 Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income
- 1999 Agreement concerning the Promotion and Protection of Investment 2002 Agreement on Technical Cooperation
- 2004 Exchange of Notes on Debt Relief Measure
- 2005 Cultural Exchange Program
- 2005 JITCO and MOEWE signed a record of discussion on apprentice trainee.
- 2008 US $ 60 million loan agreement on Bangladesh Emergency Disaster Management
As we take stock of our relations of the past thirty eight years, both countries are confident that the bilateral relations, foundation of which has been reinforced and consolidated during the past years, will continue to further strengthen in the years ahead to our mutual benefit.