A Budding Partnership: The Advancement of Japanese–Bangladeshi Politico-Strategic Ties

A Budding Partnership: The Advancement of Japanese–Bangladeshi Politico-Strategic Ties

On Nov. eleven, 2023, the fourteen.three-km lengthy channel of the Matarbari deep-sea port and the very first unit of the one,two hundred MW Matarbari coal-fired power plant were inaugurated in Bangladesh. These twin assignments consist of terrific importance for the country’s economic and energy stability. At the identical time, the tasks symbolize the depth of the mutually valuable partnership concerning Bangladesh and Japan, because both equally the deep-sea port and the power plant are becoming created and financed by Japan. At present, the strategic ties concerning Dhaka and Tokyo are quickly growing.

Historical Track record

Considering that the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Bangladesh and Japan have forged solid economic, diplomatic, and political ties. Japan recognized Bangladesh on Feb. 10, 1972, getting to be the 1st OECD member-state to identify the recently unbiased state. Due to the fact then, Tokyo has emerged as the greatest resource of Official Progress Aid (ODA) for Dhaka, and it has provided, or dedicated to present, the latter with a lot more than $30.32 billion in the sort of grants, financial loans and complex assistance. The Japanese–Bangladeshi bilateral trade currently quantities to much more than $4.124 billion, and the equilibrium of payments is in Japan’s favor. In dealing with Bangladesh, the Japanese have largely focused on the financial sphere, and typically refrained from interfering in the inside political processes in the country. As a end result, irrespective of the party in electrical power, Dhaka has managed a close partnership with Tokyo around the a long time, and Japan has managed to cultivate the graphic of ‘all-weather conditions friend’ in the country.

Originally, Japanese fascination in Bangladesh generally emanated from Japanese lookup for markets and investments as nicely as Japan’s drive to broaden its affect in South and Southeast Asia. As a end result of the intensifying Sino–Japanese strategic competitors, restricting Chinese influence in Bangladesh turned one more important Japanese goal in the region. So, Tokyo and Beijing are at the moment engaged in a discreet levels of competition with each other in Bangladesh. For that reason, Japan’s stakes in Bangladesh are increasing. Meanwhile, Bangladesh is fascinated in retaining its close partnership with Japan to even more its socio-financial development, for which it requires Japanese overseas direct expenditure (FDI), infrastructure improvement support, high-tech industrial products, and other industrial goods. What’s more, Bangladesh desires to retain its strategic autonomy vis-à-vis all wonderful and regional powers, and due to the fact Japan is a person of individuals powers, Dhaka values its partnership with Tokyo. Accordingly, Dhaka and Tokyo have expanded the horizons of their partnership more than the former decade.

The Growth of Japanese–Bangladeshi Politico-Strategic Ties

Customarily, Japan’s involvement in Bangladesh has been concentrated in the financial and cultural sectors. Even so, Tokyo is at this time in search of to forge strong political and strategic ties with Dhaka by way of a number of methods.

1st, Japan is intensely concerned in the socio-economic improvement in Bangladesh. At existing, close to 350 Japanese corporations are functioning in Bangladesh, with a merged investment of about $380 million. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has so significantly financed the design of 134 bridges in Bangladesh. Japan has also created hospitals, faculties, schooling institutes, and even retirement homes in the nation. At existing, Japan is involved in a number of big infrastructure tasks in Bangladesh, such as the Dhaka Metro Rail Project, the Hazrat Shahjalal Global Airport Terminal expansion project, the Chattogram City Outer Ring Street Project, the Chattogram WASA Karnaphuli Water Supply Project, the Nationwide Electric power Transmission Community Development Challenge, and the Purely natural Fuel Effectiveness Project.

Additionally, Japan is constructing the Matarbari deep-sea port and the Matarbari coal-fired energy plant. Modelled on the Japanese deep-sea ports of Kashima and Niigata, the Matarbari port is the initially deep-sea port in Bangladesh. It would not only reduce the force on the port of Chattogram but also present a hub for close by landlocked locations, like Northeast India and the Himalayan states of Nepal and Bhutan. Initially, China had proposed to make a deep-sea port for Bangladesh at the Sonadia Island, but the task was scrapped just after going through opposition from India, Japan and the United States (US). Instead, Japan acquired the deal to assemble a deep-sea port at Matarbari, obtaining a geopolitical and geo-economic achievement vis-à-vis China. As a result, Japan has developed sizeable political and economic stakes in Bangladesh, and has grow to be an essential ingredient of Bangladesh’s financial and strength protection.

2nd, Dhaka and Tokyo forged a ‘comprehensive partnership’ on 26 May perhaps 2014. Beneath this endeavor, the two states initiated a bilateral dialogue at the International Secretary level, accelerated the development of the Bangladesh Peacebuilding Centre in Dhaka with Japanese aid, declared the launch of the Joint Bangladesh–Japan Public–Private Financial Dialogue, and dedicated themselves to the even more growth of Japanese–Bangladeshi political, economic, and cultural ties. On 26 April 2023, the two nations upgraded their ties to the amount of ‘strategic partnership’. Amid other matters, Dhaka made the decision to open a Protection Wing in the Bangladeshi Embassy in Tokyo beneath this agreement, and in its transform, Tokyo determined to open up a Nationwide Safety Wing in the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka. Additionally, Bangladesh said its assistance for a absolutely free, open, peaceful, and safe Indo-Pacific, whilst Japan expressed its help for the secure, voluntary, and dignified repatriation of the Rohingya refugees.

Final but not the the very least, for the initial time in the heritage of Japanese–Bangladeshi ties, Japan has determined to provide Bangladesh with Formal Protection Assistance (OSA), and it is poised to source Bangladesh with four patrol boats really worth $three.eighty two million below this framework. Bangladesh is one particular of the incredibly several nations which has been chosen for obtaining Japanese OSA, and it demonstrates Bangladesh’s expanding worth to Japan. In addition, the Bangladesh Armed Forces and the Japan Self-Defense Forces are creating bilateral safety cooperation by arranging for large-stage visits, device-to-device exchanges, instruction applications and goodwill exercise routines. Moreover, vessels of the Japan Maritime Self-Protection Force (JMSDF) have recently started out creating recurrent port phone calls at Chattogram, the key seaport of Bangladesh.

Thus, Japan is steadily increasing its politico-strategic footprints in Bangladesh via raising its stakes in the latter’s common as properly as non-regular protection sectors.

Strategic Implications

The growing expansion of the Japanese–Bangladeshi ties signify the raising Japanese political, financial, and strategic stakes in Bangladesh. Owing to the intensification of the geopolitical competition in the Indo-Pacific location and the Sino–Japanese strategic rivalry, Japan is trying to find to develop its affect in Bangladesh and the broader Bay of Bengal area by undertaking strategically substantial projects this kind of as the Matarbari deep-sea port, growing army-political ties with Dhaka and extending navy aid to the state. Appropriately, it has emerged as an critical strategic associate for Dhaka.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh is targeted on the preservation of its strategic autonomy, the acceleration of its socio-economic growth and the modernization of its armed forces. Japan’s rising desire in Bangladesh has the possible to aid the latter in realizing its nationwide objectives. Having said that, the expansion of the Japanese–Bangladeshi politico-strategic ties can have possible adverse geopolitical repercussions for Bangladesh as nicely, particularly vis-à-vis China. Therefore, Dhaka need to very carefully regulate its ties with Tokyo to shield alone from any unfavorable fallouts though maximizing its politico-financial gains from the partnership.

[Photo by Prime Minister’s Office, Japan]

Md. Himel Rahman is a post-graduate pupil of Security Experiments at the Section of Worldwide Relations, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and a freelance analyst on global and strategic affairs. His articles have been posted in a range of shops, which includes the South Asian Voices, the Geopolitics, the Eurasia Overview, the Day-to-day Star and the Every day Observer. The sights and views expressed in this report are those of the author.

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