Japan pays special attention to Bangladesh and India


On April 11-12, a tripartite meeting took place between Bangladesh, Japan and India to put in place connectivity initiatives to harness the commercial potentials of the region. This was jointly organized by Asian Confluence, a Shillong-based think tank based in North East India and Japanese Embassy.

According to media reports, Japan is going to invest heavily in Northeast India and Bangladesh, including the deep-sea port at Matarbari in Bangladesh, which will connect the landlocked Northeastern states in Indian with Bay of Bengal.

Indian Express in a report said, “At a conclave on connectivity and regional partnership between Northeast India, Bay of Bengal region, Bangladesh and Japan, representatives of both Bangladesh and Japan on Wednesday said Tripura now faces a huge potential of international connectivity to become a trade and commerce gateway in the region.

“In his address at the 3rd India-Japan Intellectual Conclave organized in Agartala, Japanese Ambassador to India Hiroshi Suzuki said that development of northeast India is a priority of the Japanese government and said good prospects of trade and economy lie in the Bay of Bengal region, including Bangladesh, Northeast India and West Bengal”.

While attending the conclave on ‘North East India, Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal in the Indo Pacific: Building Partnerships: The Way Forward’, Japanese Ambassador to India Hiroshi Suzuki said Bangladesh could be the industrial hub of the Bay of Bengal region while Northeast India and Bangladesh value change could prosper both countries with use of Japan-funded Matabari deep sea port in Bangladesh along with the existing Chittagong and Mongla ports.

“Value chain of Northeast India and Bangladesh could be beneficial and prosperous for both the countries. The Matabari deep sea port can be used along with Chittagong and Mongla ports of Bangladesh and these would help the region to a great extent. Bangladesh and Northeast India can have a win-win prospect”, ambassador Suzuki said.

Ambassador Hiroshi Suzuki also said Japanese Prime Minister and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently discussed prospects to develop Northeast India and cited a host of projects going on in the Northeast Indian states with help from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

While stating that the Japanese government has a high priority to develop Northeast India and increase trade activities with Bangladesh in its policies, ambassador Hiroshi Suzuki said turning Bangladesh into an industrial hub of the Bay of Bengal region could resolve many issues, including unemployment.

Stating that India and Japan have been civilizational partners since long, the ambassador stressed on the fact that Northeast states are landlocked but put together, the Northeast region enjoys close proximity to the Bay of Bengal and is ecologically connected to the Bay of Bengal through a unique contiguous landscape.

Focusing on the potential of connectivity and cooperation with the nations of Bay of Bengal region, the Ambassador said the Japanese-funded Matarbari deep-sea port in Bangladesh, which is expected to be operational in 2027, holds potential to become a regional hub for industrial value chain connecting Northeast India through Tripura with Bangladesh and onward onto the larger Bay of Bengal region.

Asian Confluence recently conducted a study that suggested both Northeast India and Bangladesh need to scale up their multi-modal connectivity, which would not only help the region to raise its competitiveness but also narrow the development gaps in the region.

The study suggested in parallel, both countries should work together to bring synergy in trade facilitation and build express corridors for the transshipment and transit of goods from the Northeast Region to the Chattogram Port [Chittagong Port] in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh, an important country in the Indo-Pacific region

Bangladesh has become extremely important country in the Indo-Pacific religion to the global powers. It is also a country where Japan is investing in a significant way, whereas Tokyo in involved in a number of projects in Bangladesh, including the Matarbari Port.

Following formally recognizing Bangladesh on February 10, 1972 (Bangladesh emerged as an independent and sovereign country on December 16, 1971 after defeating Pakistani occupation forces) relationship between Dhaka and Tokyo has been extremely warm. But Japanese participation in Bangladesh’s development projects has been outsmarted by China in recent times, especially after the launch of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), where Bangladesh is an important participant. China also has been making massive participation in various projects in Bangladesh, while Chinese investors are looking for increasing their investments in export processing and special economic zones established by ruling Awami League government under the magnanimous statesmanship of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

In June 2018 that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed loan agreements in the amount of ¥2.65 billion JPY (US$19.65 million) with the Bangladesh government. Their purpose was to provide for the development of the Matarbari Port in Bangladesh. Tokyo is also involved in the Dhaka mass rapid transport network as part of its development assistance to the country.

While unveiling a “free and open Indo Pacific” new policy” Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida said recently “Northeast India, surrounded by land, still has unexploited economic potential.

Viewing Bangladesh and other areas to the south as a single economic zone, Japan will build Bengal-Northeast India industrial value chain concept in cooperation with India and Bangladesh to foster the growth of the entire region.

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