Assessment of the Sheikh Hasina-Kishida Summit, 2023: Towards Transforming Bangladesh-Japan Partnership

World politics is at a historic turning point. The balance of power is shifting dramatically in international relations today. Geopolitical issues are increasingly capturing the headlines in the world. Strategic and military interests have already become predominant in the context of the Ukraine war, the Taiwan crisis, the Korean Peninsula crisis, South China Sea dispute and a host of hotspots in different parts of the world. On top of these flashpoints, Sino-American rivalry and growing tensions among the great powers have created a new landscape for countries like Bangladesh and Japan to think the future differently. Against this global context, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Japan during 25-28 April 2023 which has produced remarkable diplomatic outcomes with far-reaching implications for bilateral partnership. In addition to her bilateral meetings with the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Sheikh Hasina spoke at an investment conference and a community reception. She delivered the “Friends of Liberation War Honor” award to Japanese veterans who supported Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in 1971. During the visit Bangladesh and Japan have signed eight agreements and memoranda of cooperation in diverse sectors with a view to upgrading the bilateral cooperation to a “strategic partnership.”

The visit has undoubtedly solidified the existing close ties and has built a foundation for the next fifty years and beyond. PM Hasina has taken actions to elevate the bilateral relationship and put it on the strongest foundation for future cooperation. Japan intends to strengthen its bilateral relationships with Bangladesh to a “strategic” level by including new components like defense and security. During her visit, Japan pledged full support for Bangladesh’s efforts to realize its goal of becoming a developing nation in 2026 and a developed and prosperous and a smart nation by 2041. Overall, the visit has been phenomenal, given the outcomes both the nations have produced. Precisely, the central purpose of the visit was to transform the bilateral ties to cater the need for the changed world. Both Bangladesh and Japan are aware that their bilateral relationship received a biggest boost when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised the ties to the “Comprehensive Partnership” level in May 2014.

The Summit has demonstrated that the relationship between Bangladesh and Japan is not just another case of amicable ties between two nations. It goes beyond the conventional definition of friendship and stands as a remarkable illustration of a steadfast and time-honored partnership. Moreover, this relationship is a sterling example of how the synergy of global cooperation and economic diplomacy can foster remarkable developments. Every aspect of bilateral cooperation has been addressed during the visit with special emphasis on security and strategic interests. Overall, the visit has undoubtedly strengthened the relationship between Bangladesh and Japan and laid the groundwork for a prosperous and sustainable future for both nations and for the region. The possibilities that lie ahead are immense, and the future looks promising and vibrant. In this context, this Special Report has delved into an appraisal of different dimensions of bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and Japan highlighted during the Summit. It has comprehensively covered issues and achievements to give a holistic understanding of Bangladesh-Japan relations.