EMPHASISING that Japan never compared or discriminated between India and Pakistan, the Japanese ambassador in Islamabad Takashi Kurai, however, said his country’s nuclear cooperation with India was 100 per cent in accordance with international norms.
Pakistan had its own process to follow. India has been pursuing its case since 2008.Likewise Pakistan too should pursue its case for nuclear cooperation. He made these remarks in answer to question from this scribe as to why Tokyo was discriminating between India and Pakistan in its policy for India’s entry into Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), denying similar treatment to Pakistan.
He also said that although some spadework had been done on signing Free Trade Agreement with Pakistan, but although he was not opposing that, experience of FTA with China, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, has not been very fruitful.
Speaking at the English Speaking Union of Pakistan Wednesday, he dwelt in substantial detail bilateral relations between his country and Pakistan.
He recalled that Pakistan was the first country to start cotton export to Japan after World War 11. Pakistan was one of the first countries to which Japan started Overseas Development Aid (ODA) in 1954.One of the biggest offices of Japanese trade houses was located in Karachi 50s and 60s of the last century. Pakistan was also the first foreign country where Japanese automobile company made investment in 1958. Today Pakistan had 92 per cent Japanese cars and in Karachi this number was even higher than 95 per cent. In fact Pakistan had greater number of Japanese cars than in Japan itself.
As for people-to-people contacts, he happily recalled that Tsuneo Hasegawa. A famous Japanese climber passed away in 1991 and his spouse Masami built Hasegawa Memorial Public School in Karimabad village in Hunza. Similarly two more Japanese nationals, Mineko Nishikori, a lady who loved Pakistan and built Mineko
School in Passu village in Hunza, and Shun Imaizumi, currently President of Japan-Pakistan Friendship Association was busy consolidating these ties living in his home country.
Feeling happy that Japan and Pakistan established the diplomatic relations in 1952, Amb. Kurai said that in 1954 Japan started its first official development assistance for Pakistan: accepted Pakistani trainees under the Colombo Plan. January 1962 Emperor Akihito and Empress visited Pakistan as crown prince and crown princess.
In December 1992 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Japan. August 2000 Japanese Prime Minister Mori visited Pakistan and had meeting with General Pervez Musharraf.
Another Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi visited Pakistan in April 2005and both countries issued the Joint Declaration, “Japan-Pakistan at a new frontier: Towards a renewed, enhanced and robust relationship.”
In February 2011 President Zardari visited Japan and both countries issued the Joint Statement on Japan-Pakistan Comprehensive Partnership.
Other notable events for cementing bilateral ties was a Summit & Foreign Ministers’ Meetings (2016), PM Shinzo Abe and PM Nawaz Sharif (September 2016, NY), foreign minister Fumio Kishida and Advisor to the PM on Foreign affair Sartaj Aziz (September 2016 met in New York, Besides, there were two VIP Exchanges (2016) 5th Japan-Pak Security Dialogue and Military-to-Military Talks (August 2016, Islamabad)
Two Pakistani ministers Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi were in Japan in October and November this year, the Advisor to the PM on National Security, Nasser Khan Janjua visit to Tokyo this month and 3 Parliamentary Friendship Groups had also taken place. Businessmen team exchanges also took place to strengthen economic ties.
About trade, he said the bilateral trade stood at 2 billion US dollars, imports from was $1,825million (2016FY). Export to Japan: $176 million (2016FY). Japan’s major exports to Pakistan are vehicles, vehicles parts, machinery and steel, while Japan’s major imports from Pakistan are textiles, textile articles and chemical products (2016FY).
The net inflow of Foreign Investment from Japan is at $74.0 million (2015FY). About 80 Japanese-affiliated companies are doing business in Pakistan. Bilateral business forums were doing their job to promote economic, trade and business ties
The envoy said that Japan is the third largest OECD/DAC donor to Pakistan after USA and UK, total amount of assistance since 1954 being 1,278 billion yen (Loan: ¥981 billion, Grant: ¥259 billion, Technical Cooperation: ¥51 billion) (FY2014).
He said that security and economic infrastructure, has improved, and may yield positive results. Some flagship projects being —760km of Indus Highway between Peshawar and Karachi has been improved under Japan’s assistance. In particular, Kohat Tunnel is known as a symbol of friendship. (Soft loans of ¥80 billion in total), Japan has been supporting Polio Eradication in Pakistan since 1996 (i.e. Grants of ¥11 billion in total and a soft loan of ¥11 billion. The number of polio cases has been reduced from more than 30,000 in 1994 to 54 in 2015. The long list showed that Japan has been supporting PIMS (Pakistan Institute of Medical Services) since 1982 (Children’s Hospital, Mother and Child Health Center and College of Nursing and Paramedical Institute). (Grants of 11 billion yen in total). The Japan International Cooperation Association (JICA) has accepted and trained 7,747 Pakistani trainees both in Japan and in Pakistan and 2,030 JICA experts were dispatched to Pakistan since 1954 until the end of 2014.
Mr Aziz Memon paid him eloquent tributes to Mr. Kurai, recalling that he had speaks Russian language fluently having served in former Soviet Union and now Russian Federation in different capacities.
He spent a hectic schedule in Karachi, his second visit to the city after taking over assignment in Islamabad. He met Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and was entertained to a lovely dinner Wednesday night by Mr Salim Goplani, President of the Pakistan-Japan Cultural Association. Mr Salim and his wife are lovely hosts. They took great care of their guests. It was a remarkable evening. Japanese consul general in Karachi Toshikazu Isomura was with him. On Thursday, eminent businessman Mr Kalim Farooqui held a reception in his honour, attended by business elite of the city. Ambassador Kurai said he was struck by the kindness and hospitality of the Pakistani people and considered himself at home as ambassador of his country.