Immediately after independence, Japan recognized the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on 10th February 1972. Thus, one of the first nations to formally acknowledge Bangladesh was Japan. Since then, a cordial bond has grown between the two nations. Through bilateral visits, cultural exchanges, and commercial and technical cooperation, Japan and Bangladesh have maintained cordial ties. Japan supports Bangladesh’s efforts for its economic and social development as one of its main development partners.
The Agreement on Technical Cooperation between Japan and Bangladesh was signed by the two governments on December 8th, 2002 to strengthen further the mutual technical cooperation by combining its infrastructure and streamlining its procedures under one overarching framework. Following this relationship recently Japan includes Bangladesh in OSA to enhance defense cooperation. It is a strategic move that promises to bolster regional security and cooperation, Japan and Bangladesh have united under the framework of the Ocean Security and Awareness (OSA) initiative. This partnership marks a significant step forward in the pursuit of maritime security and economic prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
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The Japanese foreign ministry claims that in order to prevent unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force and to ensure the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region in particular, it is crucial for us to significantly strengthen our own defense capabilities as well as the security and deterrence capabilities of like-minded countries. This is because Japan is currently experiencing the most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II.
Japan has decided to establish a new framework for cooperation called Official Security Assistance (OSA) to benefit armed forces and other related organizations by providing materials and equipment as well as assistance for the development of infrastructure based on the security needs of the countries. This is done in addition to Official Development Assistance (ODA), which aims to promote the economic and social development of developing nations.
The new National Security Strategy that was approved by the Cabinet on December 16, 2022 makes reference to OSA.
The joint statement following the April meeting between Sheikh Hasina and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio acknowledged this OSA issue.
The OSA was established by Japan for the benefit of armed forces and other relevant organizations of like-minded nations in order to strengthen security cooperation, and Prime Minister Hasina welcomed future collaboration within this framework.
The two prime ministers praised recent regular port visits by JMSDF boats at Chattogram as well as high-level bilateral visits by the Bangladesh Armed Forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces.
They agreed to continue promoting security cooperation through activities including unit-to-unit exchange, training programs, and goodwill exercises in light of the Memorandum of Cooperation and Exchanges that the defense authorities from the two sides had created.
They applauded the start of negotiations on an agreement addressing the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology because they could see the potential in the future.
The new National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Defense Buildup Program, as well as Prime Minister Kishida’s explanation of these measures, demonstrate Japan’s attempts to fundamentally strengthen its defense capabilities and strengthen diplomatic efforts.
In accordance with the Forces Goal 2030, Prime Minister Hasina revealed Bangladesh’s initiative and plan for further modernizing its armed forces.
The efforts made by the two prime ministers’ nations to support their respective regional security were both acknowledged.
The envoy emphasized both the economic and inter-human connectivity at the meeting.
He claimed that in April 2023, the two nations established the Joint Study Group on the prospect of a Japan-Bangladesh Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in order to strengthen their economic ties.
Both the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport’s third terminal and the entire Dhaka metro train network, which were both built with assistance from Japan, would be opened to the public in October.
The envoy claimed that as part of the cultural exchange, language instructors had already been sent. Additionally, JOCVs (Japanese overseas cooperation volunteers) will be sent out soon.
He claimed that as part of employing human resources, they were also attempting to launch the Specified Skilled Worker (SSW) program in Dhaka.
Bangladesh and Japan Cooperate
Despite their geographical distance, Bangladesh and Japan both have coastal areas, hence they have a shared interest in marine security. They joined forces in the OSA initiative to solve issues and grasp opportunities relating to maritime security as a result of their mutual interest.
Bangladesh’s reasons for joining OSA
Bangladesh’s decision to join the Ocean Security and Awareness (OSA) initiative stems from its commitment to safeguarding marine resources and promoting maritime security. As a nation highly dependent on its coastal waters for livelihoods and trade, Bangladesh recognizes the pressing need to address ocean-related challenges. Joining OSA enables Bangladesh to collaborate with international partners, share information, and develop strategies to counter maritime threats such as illegal fishing, pollution, and piracy. Moreover, OSA provides a platform to enhance scientific research, contributing to a deeper understanding of ocean dynamics and climate change impacts. By participating in OSA, Bangladesh aims to secure its maritime interests, support sustainable ocean management, and strengthen its role in regional and global ocean governance.
Results of Bangladesh’s OSA membership
The outcomes of Bangladesh’s Ocean Security and Awareness (OSA) initiative membership have been remarkable, reflecting the country’s commitment to maritime safety and environmental conservation. Since joining the initiative, Bangladesh has significantly enhanced its capability to monitor and manage its oceanic resources, ensuring sustainable use and protection against potential threats.
One of the key achievements is the bolstering of maritime security. Through information sharing and collaboration with other OSA members, Bangladesh has effectively countered piracy, illegal fishing, and smuggling in its waters. This has not only safeguarded its maritime trade but also bolstered its national security.
Furthermore, the OSA membership has propelled Bangladesh’s efforts in marine environmental protection. The nation has actively engaged in ocean research and conservation projects, contributing to the global understanding of marine ecosystems and climate change impacts. This proactive stance has led to the preservation of critical marine habitats, securing the livelihoods of coastal communities that depend on these resources.
In terms of awareness, the initiative has facilitated educational programs and outreach campaigns, fostering a sense of ocean consciousness among Bangladeshi citizens. This heightened awareness about marine conservation is crucial for the long-term sustainability of the nation’s marine resources.
Bangladesh’s participation in the Ocean Security and Awareness initiative has yielded substantial benefits, encompassing maritime security, environmental protection, and public awareness. By actively engaging in this initiative, Bangladesh sets a positive example for other nations aspiring to secure their oceans and promote sustainable marine practices.
In conclusion, Japan’s deliberate choice of Bangladesh as its latest OSA partner is expected to strengthen and improve defense ties between the two countries. This choice demonstrates Japan’s desire to further shared interests and regional security cooperation. Both nations are prepared to make a significant contribution to the safety and prosperity of the region through their strengthened military connections as they set out on this collaborative path.