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

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

On Nov. 11, 2023, the fourteen.three-km prolonged channel of the Matarbari deep-sea port and the initial unit of the one,two hundred MW Matarbari coal-fired electric power plant had been inaugurated in Bangladesh. These twin jobs comprise good significance for the country’s financial and electrical power protection. At the very same time, the initiatives symbolize the depth of the mutually advantageous partnership involving Bangladesh and Japan, for the reason that both equally the deep-sea port and the electricity plant are currently being constructed and financed by Japan. At present, the strategic ties amongst Dhaka and Tokyo are speedily increasing.

Historical Background

Considering the fact that the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Bangladesh and Japan have forged powerful financial, diplomatic, and political ties. Japan identified Bangladesh on Feb. 10, 1972, turning into the initially OECD member-point out to acknowledge the freshly unbiased condition. Due to the fact then, Tokyo has emerged as the largest resource of Official Growth Guidance (ODA) for Dhaka, and it has offered, or fully commited to present, the latter with far more than $thirty.32 billion in the variety of grants, loans and technical aid. The Japanese–Bangladeshi bilateral trade at this time quantities to more than $4.124 billion, and the balance of payments is in Japan’s favor. In working with Bangladesh, the Japanese have largely targeted on the financial sphere, and generally refrained from interfering in the inside political procedures in the nation. As a outcome, irrespective of the bash in electricity, Dhaka has preserved a near partnership with Tokyo about the many years, and Japan has managed to cultivate the picture of ‘all-climate friend’ in the state.

To begin with, Japanese fascination in Bangladesh principally emanated from Japanese research for marketplaces and investments as nicely as Japan’s motivation to expand its influence in South and Southeast Asia. As a outcome of the intensifying Sino–Japanese strategic opposition, restricting Chinese influence in Bangladesh became a further critical Japanese objective in the country. So, Tokyo and Beijing are at this time engaged in a discreet competitiveness with each individual other in Bangladesh. Therefore, Japan’s stakes in Bangladesh are growing. In the meantime, Bangladesh is interested in sustaining its near partnership with Japan to even more its socio-financial improvement, for which it requires Japanese international direct financial commitment (FDI), infrastructure advancement support, superior-tech industrial products, and other industrial merchandise. Furthermore, Bangladesh wants to sustain its strategic autonomy vis-à-vis all fantastic and regional powers, and due to the fact Japan is a single of those people powers, Dhaka values its partnership with Tokyo. Accordingly, Dhaka and Tokyo have expanded the horizons of their partnership more than the prior decade.

The Development of Japanese–Bangladeshi Politico-Strategic Ties

Historically, Japan’s involvement in Bangladesh has been concentrated in the economic and cultural sectors. Nevertheless, Tokyo is at present in search of to forge sturdy political and strategic ties with Dhaka by a range of techniques.

First, Japan is heavily associated in the socio-financial enhancement in Bangladesh. At existing, somewhere around 350 Japanese providers are running in Bangladesh, with a blended investment decision of about $380 million. The Japan International Cooperation Company (JICA) has so considerably financed the development of 134 bridges in Bangladesh. Japan has also made hospitals, faculties, coaching institutes, and even retirement households in the region. At existing, Japan is involved in a selection of major infrastructure tasks in Bangladesh, which includes the Dhaka Metro Rail Undertaking, the Hazrat Shahjalal Intercontinental Airport Terminal expansion venture, the Chattogram City Outer Ring Road Venture, the Chattogram WASA Karnaphuli H2o Source Challenge, the Countrywide Electrical power Transmission Community Enhancement Challenge, and the Normal Gasoline Effectiveness Project.

Furthermore, Japan is constructing the Matarbari deep-sea port and the Matarbari coal-fired ability plant. Modelled on the Japanese deep-sea ports of Kashima and Niigata, the Matarbari port is the very first deep-sea port in Bangladesh. It would not only reduce the strain on the port of Chattogram but also supply a hub for nearby landlocked areas, which includes Northeast India and the Himalayan states of Nepal and Bhutan. At first, China had proposed to construct a deep-sea port for Bangladesh at the Sonadia Island, but the venture was scrapped just after experiencing opposition from India, Japan and the United States (US). Instead, Japan gained the contract to assemble a deep-sea port at Matarbari, getting a geopolitical and geo-financial success vis-à-vis China. Thus, Japan has produced significant political and financial stakes in Bangladesh, and has grow to be an significant part of Bangladesh’s financial and vitality security.

Second, Dhaka and Tokyo solid a ‘comprehensive partnership’ on 26 Might 2014. Under this undertaking, the two states initiated a bilateral dialogue at the Foreign Secretary stage, accelerated the design of the Bangladesh Peacebuilding Centre in Dhaka with Japanese guidance, announced the start of the Joint Bangladesh–Japan Public–Private Financial Dialogue, and fully commited on their own to the even more growth of Japanese–Bangladeshi political, financial, and cultural ties. On 26 April 2023, the two international locations upgraded their ties to the degree of ‘strategic partnership’. Amongst other issues, Dhaka decided to open a Defense Wing in the Bangladeshi Embassy in Tokyo beneath this agreement, and in its change, Tokyo resolved to open up a Nationwide Protection Wing in the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka. In addition, Bangladesh said its assist for a totally free, open up, tranquil, and safe Indo-Pacific, whilst Japan expressed its assist for the protected, voluntary, and dignified repatriation of the Rohingya refugees.

Past but not the the very least, for the 1st time in the heritage of Japanese–Bangladeshi ties, Japan has made a decision to present Bangladesh with Official Stability Help (OSA), and it is poised to offer Bangladesh with 4 patrol boats worthy of $three.82 million beneath this framework. Bangladesh is one of the extremely few nations which has been picked for obtaining Japanese OSA, and it demonstrates Bangladesh’s rising relevance to Japan. In addition, the Bangladesh Armed Forces and the Japan Self-Protection Forces are acquiring bilateral security cooperation by arranging for substantial-stage visits, device-to-unit exchanges, coaching courses and goodwill workout routines. Moreover, vessels of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Drive (JMSDF) have lately begun generating frequent port phone calls at Chattogram, the most important seaport of Bangladesh.

Thus, Japan is steadily expanding its politico-strategic footprints in Bangladesh by raising its stakes in the latter’s classic as effectively as non-conventional security sectors.

Strategic Implications

The increasing enlargement of the Japanese–Bangladeshi ties signify the growing Japanese political, economic, and strategic stakes in Bangladesh. Owing to the intensification of the geopolitical levels of competition in the Indo-Pacific area and the Sino–Japanese strategic rivalry, Japan is searching for to grow its impact in Bangladesh and the broader Bay of Bengal location by endeavor strategically major initiatives this sort of as the Matarbari deep-sea port, expanding military services-political ties with Dhaka and extending armed service assist to the nation. Appropriately, it has emerged as an essential strategic partner for Dhaka.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh is concentrated on the preservation of its strategic autonomy, the acceleration of its socio-financial improvement and the modernization of its armed forces. Japan’s developing desire in Bangladesh has the potential to help the latter in noticing its countrywide targets. Even so, the enlargement of the Japanese–Bangladeshi politico-strategic ties can have possible adverse geopolitical repercussions for Bangladesh as effectively, specially vis-à-vis China. Therefore, Dhaka ought to diligently handle its ties with Tokyo to protect itself from any destructive fallouts when maximizing its politico-economic gains from the partnership.

[Photo by Prime Minister’s Office, Japan]

Md. Himel Rahman is a submit-graduate pupil of Safety Research at the Section of Intercontinental Relations, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and a freelance analyst on worldwide and strategic affairs. His article content have been printed in a amount of shops, which include the South Asian Voices, the Geopolitics, the Eurasia Review, the Everyday Star and the Every day Observer. The sights and opinions expressed in this article are all those of the creator.

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