First Bangladesh-Japan foreign secretary-level talks on Feb 5

The first foreign secretarial-level meeting, known as Foreign Office Consultation (FOC), between Bangladesh and Japan is scheduled in Dhaka on Feb 5.

Nurul Islam Hasibbdnews24.com
Published : 1 Feb 2015, 03:59 PM
Updated : 1 Feb 2015, 06:58 PM

Japanese Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyana will lead his side, while Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque will lead the Bangladesh delegation.

The decision to hold regular foreign secretary-level consultation was taken during the visits of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her counterpart Shinzo Abe last year.

This was part of the “comprehensive partnership” that Dhaka and Tokyo embarked on last year.

Officials see this initiative as a “significant step forward” in the relations, as Tokyo will discuss with Dhaka “not only bilateral issues, but also issues of regional and global interest”.

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It is also aimed at the “deepening of bilateral policy dialogue and cooperation”, according to a joint statement issued after Abe’s visit to Dhaka in September.
Both sides will explore new means of cooperation.
A senior foreign ministry official told bdnews24.com that they would seek cooperation in agriculture and disaster management.
Japanese technical support would be sought for building a disaster management institute, apart from a setting up a peace-building centre, as discussed last year.
Japan is Bangladesh’s largest bilateral donor.
Last year, Abe had promised Bangladesh assistance worth $ 6 billion for the next four or five years, a gesture rare in its history.
Japan usually negotiates its official assistance each year, but broke from tradition last year to embark on a comprehensive partnership.
It announced the long-term assistance under an initiative called the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt or BIG-B.
Abe said this initiative was the “centrepiece” of Japan’s cooperation with Bangladesh.
Japan has a grand design of combining the two oceanic regions – Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean – for greater geo-political space to boost its economy.
It suggested that Bangladesh took advantage of its “lynchpin” position between South Asia and South-East Asia and play the role of a regional “node and hub”.
Japan is helping Bangladesh build an “ultra-super critical” coal-fired power plant in Matarbarhi, where an industrial belt has been planned.
A deep-sea port is also part of the project at Cox’s Bazar Maheshkhali.
JICA, Japan’s development arm, is preparing a comprehensive master plan for this future expansion.
Bangladesh has promised Japan a special economic zone and already proposed land either in Sripur or in Munshiganj.
Bangladesh has also sought Japanese help to build a nuclear power plant.
“They (Japan) have an emotional issue after the Fukushima disaster, so they will not help in this regard right now. They told us they would look into it in future,” a foreign ministry official told bdnews24.com.
“But we will hold a seminar jointly this year on the peaceful uses of nuclear power,” added the official who declined to be named.
Both sides last year inked an ‘air service agreement’ to start direct flights.
The foreign secretary-level meeting will also look into the details of its implementation.
Bangladesh stresses its relations with Japan for investments and infrastructure development, while analysts say Japan is also keen to strengthen the ties since it needs more friends in South Asia to counter Chinese influence.
In view of its “continued and strong support in Bangladesh’s development process”, Prime Minister Hasina withdrew Dhaka’s candidature for the non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in support of Tokyo last year.
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher