KARACHI: The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Pakistan Takashi Kurai has said that Japan and Pakistan have enjoyed good and fruitful relations for over 65 years and they will continue to support Pakistan in the future as well.
He was addressing a gathering organised by the English Speaking Union at a local hotel here on Wednesday.
“Let me start with my last meeting with Mr Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, on Friday where I made clear to him that whatever government comes into power in Pakistan, Japan will continue to support economic development here. Your principles based on transparency, law and justice, social equity, education and provision of clean drinking water for the people is something that Japan also stands for,” he said.
“We have enjoyed a good relationship with Pakistan since before 1952 and there is potential for further strengthening and betterment particularly in the political context,” he said adding that in the first part of their relationship they had concentrated more on establishing democratic relations with economy at its core. “One year after the partition of India, in 1948, we sent our economic mission to Pakistan and by 1949 we started trade with Pakistan,” he said.
“We imported cotton from Pakistan as textile was an important industry in Japan, but after World War II we needed cotton and Pakistan was kind enough to export it to Japan,” he said.
It was explained how the good relations between the two countries from the early 1950s to the late 1990s suffered after Pakistan carried out nuclear tests. “We were close to a treaty for the protection of industry in March 1998 but two months later it was suspended with the nuclear tests happening,” he said.
“But after September 11, 2001, the people of Japan realised Pakistan’s issues and the strain on your country while fighting the war on terror. That was when we reconsidered our assistance to Pakistan, which we resumed by 2005,” he said. “But some here say that after the tests of 1998 our economic assistance has been reduced somewhat. Maybe it was like that earlier but it grew by 2007,” he said.
The ambassador said that terrorism and deterioration of security, politics too, carried significance in investment. “But Japan is glad to see the situation in Pakistan improving since 2010. And Japan is with Pakistan in not just economic matters, but also in its fight against terrorism because stability in the region will help in expansion of trade,” he said.
Coming to the issue of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that there was a misunderstanding here that Japan was against CPEC. “It is not true,” he said. “What we have been saying is that we hope CPEC will be implemented for the sake of Pakistan. In order for CPEC to benefit Pakistan there should be transparency, economic viability, international standards, which are the fundamental principles for any project to be based on,” he said.
He also said that Pakistan was looking to expand its exports, but bilateral trade with Japan was not going to work out because there was an imbalance as Pakistan had few things to export compared to Japan. “I do not believe that a free trade agreement with Japan would do Pakistan much good until you change the structure of your trading. There should be a diversification of export goods not just to Japan but all over the world,” he said. “Also different rules of economics apply to developed and developing countries. Pakistan is a developing country, so is China. But Japan is a developed country,” he pointed out.
Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2018