Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki has said Japan will seize the opportunity to find a “long-term and lasting solution” to the Rohingya crisis with the Myanmar side, noting that the issue is very relevant to the future stability of the entire region.
“What we can say right now is Japan will seize the opportunity to raise this very, very important issue with the Myanmar side and its military now whenever appropriate,” he said.
The Japanese envoy said his country will do its best to create an enabling environment for the early repatriation of Rohingyas and will continue to raise the issue with the Myanmar side whenever appropriate.
He was responding to a question at a virtual dialogue titled “Bangladesh-Japan Relations: Prognosis for the Future” where he delivered the keynote speech.
Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group, hosted the dialogue as a part of its ongoing Ambassador’s Lecture Series.
The opening remarks were delivered by the Cosmos Foundation Chairman Enayetullah Khan. The session was chaired by Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, renowned scholar-diplomat and former Advisor on Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Caretaker Government.
Special Envoy of the Climate Vulnerable Forum Md Abul Kalam Azad, Chief Representative of JICA Bangladesh OfficeHayakawa Yuho, former Governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, Professor at University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo, Masaaki Ohashi, Columnist, writer and academic Manzurul Huq, Dean of Graduate School of Public Policy, the University of Tokyo Prof Takahara Akio, and Honorary Advisor Emeritus of Cosmos Foundation Ambassador (retd) Tariq A Karim comprised the panel of discussants.
Ambassador Ito said humanitarian assistance and humanitarian crises are very much part of their vision when they talk about stability and peace of the region.
He said it is very difficult to predict what is going to happen in Myanmar right now in light of the current situation in that country since the February 1 military coup with a complete standoff.
“There’s no clear picture in which direction Myanmar is moving right now. Now nobody can have a really clear-cut prospect for the situation,” he said, emphasizing the need for having a very “comprehensive and inclusive” platform to deal with the situation.
Tariq Karim said Japan, a candidate for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council at the elections to be held in 2022, will hopefully be playing a very important role within the UN Security Council.
The former diplomat felt for a sort of UN mechanism saying it will probably need a peacekeeping force under blue helmets or a regional peacekeeping force again under the same blue helmets.
“Once you can pacify the turmoil that’s taking place in Myanmar, a solution will probably start emerging from within Myanmar. That’s something I would urge all our friends, particularly Japan, to ensure that their part of Asia remains thankful, and doesn’t slide into a form of chaos,” he said, seeking ways to avoid any chaos.
Former Ambassador Tariq said Myanmar is on the “point of implosion” and implosion will result in an explosion.
He said Japan should assist Bangladesh to have the necessary stability to allow its dreams to go forward together. “We cannot afford to have the instability disturbing our dreams together forward.”
The Japanese ambassador said it is also important to keep the international community engaged both in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char relocation plan.
“We should take a comprehensive approach both for Bhasan Char and Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps. Japan expects the UN's operational engagement on the island soon since that is crucial to move forward,” said Ito Naoki.
He said the Bhasan Char project has got to be successful from a long-term viewpoint to find a durable solution. “Otherwise, the whole process may be delayed. It’s clear now that repatriation takes a much longer time.”
Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district and Bhasan Char.
Japan’s Rohingya-related humanitarian assistance in Bangladesh amounts to US$ 159 million which supports the Rohingya people and host communities through international organizations and NGOs.
Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu and UN Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener discussed the situation in Myanmar in May 2021.
Ambassador Ito said finding a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis is conducive to their “pursuit of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific”.
Earlier, Japan, US and Australia Missions declared continuing support for host communities and the Rohingya people during a visit to the Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar in March 2021.