Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki has highly appreciated Bangladesh's achievement in Covid-19 management under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership terming it a “great achievement” and assured of supplying more vaccine doses in November.
"This is really a wonderful achievement. This is a great achievement and great efforts by the government and its people," he said.
The Japanese Ambassador was addressing the "DCAB Talk" at the Jatiya Press Club (JPC) on October 14. DCAB President Pantho Rahaman and its General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke at the event.
Since the need of vaccination goes on, Ambassador Naoki said they plan to provide vaccine doses further, mainly through COVAX in November.
“I can’t specify the timing and quantity but hopefully in November we’ll be able to provide further vaccine to Bangladesh,” he said, adding that this is the current plan.
In the area of health, the Ambassador said, the two countries are going to sign an exchange of note to provide budget support focusing on the health sector.
He said this is the sign of willingness to continue support to Bangladesh as the Covid-19 pandemic is a global crisis. “It’s important that we join hands. Japan will continue to stand by Bangladesh.”
Ambassador Naoki said there is another project in the pipeline and hoped that by the end of this year or early next year they will be able to provide support for the ICUs and related facilities.
Expressing satisfaction over the supply of 3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh, the Ambassador said those doses were effectively utilized.
He said it is gratifying that the number of infections has been coming down since early September. “Now we’re about to get back to normalcy.”
Bangladesh aims to administer Covid-19 vaccines to nearly half of its population by next January. Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said the government is working to vaccinate 80 million people by December and January.
The government is also considering vaccinating children aged between 12 and 17 years. Bangladesh has already announced a target of vaccinating 80 percent of its population by 2022.
The Ambassador said Japan is the most impactful development partner of Bangladesh and there is no doubt that the two countries have excellent political relations.
“We’ve not seen high-level visits due to Covid pandemic but I’m sure, there’ll be resumption of high-level talks and exchanges,” he added.
On Japan's contribution to Bangladesh's large-scale infrastructure development, the envoy said the infrastructure situation will be very different with due transformation in five years’ time.
Ambassador Naoki hoped that the FDI flow from Japan would increase with increased trade volume and greater presence of Japanese cooperation. "We’ll step up our pragmatic cooperation," said the Japanese Ambassador.
On the Rohingya issue, he said it is very difficult to predict in which direction the situation is going. "Repatriation is very important. Japan will continue to raise the issue of repatriation with Myanmar," he said.
The international community needs to put pressure on Myanmar, he added.