Japan’s recognition of Bangladesh’s election as an internal affair has been a positive step towards strengthening bilateral ties between the two nations. During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s official visit to Tokyo in April 2023, Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Iwama Kiminori expressed satisfaction with the discussions and emphasised the importance of a “very comprehensive and targeted-oriented” partnership. During her visit to Japan, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Japanese counterpart Kishida Fumio welcomed the initiation of negotiations concerning the transfer of defence equipment and technology, recognizing future potential. They also agreed to “elevate” the bilateral relationship to a “Strategic Partnership” as a guiding principle to lead the two countries’ journey into the next 50 years and beyond.
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Refraining from commenting on Bangladesh’s upcoming election, Ambassador Iwama Kiminori reiterated that it is the country’s internal affair. He stated, “I would refrain from making any comments on this. It is an internal affair of Bangladesh,” during a media briefing at the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka. He also referenced the previous Japanese ambassador’s comments from November 2022, further emphasising Japan’s non-interventionist stance.
Japan’s strategic partnership with Bangladesh is based on mutual cooperation and respect. The partnership, elevated from comprehensive partnership during Prime Minister Hasina’s visit to Tokyo, now covers a wide range of areas, including political and security issues, economic development, and cultural exchange.
The Japanese government’s recognition of Bangladesh’s election as an internal affair highlights the importance of non-interference in the internal affairs of another country. This stance aligns with the principles of the United Nations Charter and demonstrates Japan’s commitment to promoting peace and stability in the region.
Enhancing defence cooperation
The two countries have agreed to enhance existing defence cooperation, including the transfer of defence equipment and technology. This move will contribute to regional peace and stability, in line with Japan’s commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. During the summit meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Japanese counterpart Kishida Fumio in April 2023, both leaders shared the determination to enhance defence cooperation between Bangladesh and Japan. As part of this commitment, the two countries have agreed to work on the transfer of defence equipment and technology. This move is expected to contribute significantly to regional peace and stability, in line with Japan’s commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. The leaders’ decision to elevate the bilateral relationship to a “Strategic Partnership” is seen as a crucial step towards building stronger ties between the two countries, particularly in the area of defence cooperation.
Similarities in the Indo-Pacific
Ambassador Iwama Kiminori acknowledged the similarities between Japan’s views on the Indo-Pacific region and Bangladesh’s Indo-Pacific Outlook. However, he emphasised that it is “a little premature” to evaluate the outlook at the moment. Japan appreciates the idea of the Indo-Pacific Outlook and is willing to work with Bangladesh to promote mutual cooperation and prosperity in the region.
The future of the partnership
Japan’s commitment to a “very comprehensive and targeted-oriented” partnership with Bangladesh demonstrates a shared commitment to mutual cooperation and prosperity. The strategic partnership aims to lead the two countries’ journey into the next 50 years and beyond, with cooperation in three major areas: peace and stability in the region and beyond, economic development, and cultural exchange.
In conclusion, Japan’s recognition of Bangladesh’s election as an internal affair and the focus on a comprehensive and targeted-oriented partnership marks a significant step forward in their relationship. This partnership demonstrates Japan’s commitment to promoting peace and stability in the region and contributing to Bangladesh’s economic development. The partnership is expected to bring mutual benefits to both countries and contribute to regional peace and prosperity.
Cover Photo credit: Yeasin Kabir Joy