The year 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Japan. Toward this anniversary, Dhaka and Tokyo are working hard to enhance bilateral relations even further.

Several cooperation projects were launched with the successful mutual visits by the two Prime Ministers - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014. On May 29 this year, Shinzo Abe held a 50-minute meeting with Sheikh Hasina in Tokyo and discussed ways to broaden the relations between the two countries.

The number of Japanese companies in Bangladesh was increased by 50 percent over the last five years. This growing trend demonstrates that Japan wants to continue its stronger presence in Bangladesh.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and his Japanese counterpart Tara Kono, in their recent bilateral meeting in Dhaka, agreed to have more trade and investment in Bangladesh in the coming days.

Minister Kono appreciated the increase of Japanese companies' presence in Bangladesh and sought further efforts from Dhaka to improve the investment environment for the Japanese companies to come here.

While talking to a small group of journalists, including the UNB correspondent, Deputy Press Secretary of the Japanese government Jun Saito said some 270 Japanese companies are working in Bangladesh.

"Minister Kono was very happy to tell this (to Minister Momen)," said the spokesperson for the Japanese Foreign Minister.

The Special Economic Zone for Japanese investors and the One Stop Service Act are likely to attract more Japanese companies in near future, especially in the fields of food, commodity products, light industry, ICT, among other areas.

Since the year 2008, the investment from Japan to Bangladesh has been expanding and the trend is getting stronger especially after 2011, said Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Hiroyasu Izumi.

Japanese Foreign Ministry official Saito said Bangladesh is set to become the second largest recipient of Japanese assistance right after India in Japanese fiscal year 2019 while it was the third largest recipient in fiscal year 2018. "The Japanese government is happy and proud of that."

Appreciating Bangladesh's very remarkable economic development, Minister Kono said there is a strong need for socioeconomic infrastructure and Japan will strengthen its assistance in various fields, including human resource development and education.

Asked whether Japan is diverting investment to Bangladesh from other Asian countries, Saito said he does not think so. He said there has been campaign by the Japanese government to enlighten, particularly the small and medium enterprises what steps they should take to invest in foreign lands or abroad. "We encourage them to measure the situation and they listen to us."

On security issues, the official said the Japanese government is responsible for the lives and property of Japanese people and any travel advice is solely from that point of view.

He hoped that Bangladesh government will continue to deal with the security situation within its own country in a very appropriate manner which helps them go for favourable exchanges.

Minister Kono and Dr Momen agreed to strengthen the bilateral relationship through initiatives at various levels, including high-level mutual visits, towards the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2022.

"We should start taking plans and projects to celebrate this important milestone of our ever-lasting excellent bilateral relationship," said the Japanese official.

The two ministers shared the ideas of a free and open Indo-Pacific for the stability and prosperity of the international community by building the rules-based order under three pillars freedom, the rule of law and market economy and laid emphasis on promoting these three pillars.

Based on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Japan in May this year, Minister Kono wanted to further promote the "comprehensive partnership." The two countries also discussed some specific cooperation in the area of maritime security.

Minister Kono also appreciated the decision to resume direct flight between Tokyo and Dhaka by December this year.

Japan has been the single biggest bilateral development partner for Bangladesh and the amount of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Bangladesh from Japan last year marked US$ 1.8 billion.

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