Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Dhaka yesterday at the start of a three-day visit to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka aimed at offsetting China’s mounting influence in South Asia.
Abe, who is visiting the region to boost economic and security ties, was greeted by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Dhaka airport.
The two were to hold talks later yesterday and today Abe is scheduled to meet Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse in Colombo.
The tour follows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Tokyo earlier in the week during which the two countries, who both have prickly relations with giant neighbor China, declared they would raise ties to a “new level.”
Speaking to reporters before leaving Tokyo, Abe called Bangladesh and Sri Lanka “countries with a growing influence in economic and political domains.”
“I hope to introduce the dynamism of both countries to Japan’s economy by strengthening relations with them and engaging in top-level sales activities,” said Abe, who is accompanied by 50 top corporate executives.
The trip is the first by a Japanese premier to Bangladesh in 14 years and Sri Lanka in 24 years.
In Dhaka, Abe was later due to address a forum of Japanese and Bangladeshi businesspeople and hold talks with Hasina, the Bangladeshi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Bangladesh, which described Abe’s tour as a “milestone” in relations, hopes to win Japanese investment for infrastructure projects including a railway bridge and a tunnel under the Brahmaputra River.
“This time what we want is investment,” Bangladeshi Minister of Foreign Affairs A.H. Mahmood Ali said. “This visit is considered a milestone in our relations.”
Bangladesh’s premier visited Japan in May, when Tokyo announced US$6 billion in aid for Dhaka. The deal was a boost to Hasina, coming months after she won a disputed election marred by widespread fraud and an opposition boycott.
Dhaka last month announced Japan would lend US$4 billion for an ambitious coal-fired power plant project, which includes a deep-sea terminal. Japan is already Bangladesh’s largest bilateral donor and is a fast-growing export destination.
Bangladesh plans to set up an industrial park for Japanese investors, whose investment in the country is still far below sums extended by China or South Korea.
With Japan and Bangladesh competing for a non-permanent UN Security Council seat for the 2015-2016 term, Abe and Hasina are to discuss how to defuse any dispute, local media reports said.
Japan’s state aid agency has shown interest in building a deep-sea port in Bangladesh’s south, for which Dhaka earlier approached China. Financing of the proposed port is expected to be a key topic during talks between Hasina and Abe.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka lie along sea lanes between the Middle East and East Asia. China has helped build ports in countries along the vital route.
In Colombo, Abe and Rajapakse aim to strengthen maritime territorial cooperation in the face of a more territorially assertive China, media reports said.
Japan is ready to provide patrol boats to help Sri Lanka bolster its maritime guard, according to the reports.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a