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            Seasonal greetings and best wishes for the New Year.
           I sincerely hope that this year will bring us peace and further growth both in political and economic arenas.
 
           The general election of Bangladesh on December 30th was held at such an important timing for Bangladesh, which was on its path of achieving economic growth. I expect that Bangladesh will achieve further economic growth under the new government, believing that the key is the development of democracy. And Japan will continue our effort to support the economic and political development of Bangladesh.
 
          Since 2017, there has been an unprecedented event of more than 800,000 ‘Rohingya’ refugees crossing the border into Bangladesh. Since then Bangladesh has been working so hard to accommodate them, providing shelter and food to those who displaced as well as taking every measures in cooperation with international communities to tackle this problem. Japan highly commends all the arrangements and the humanitarian effort of Bangladesh, and will continue to support and work closely together with Bangladeshi people to deal with the difficult the situation, aiming to realize their early repatriation in a safe and voluntary manner with dignity.
 
          Since I was appointed in Bangladesh, a series of high-level visits had taken place within only a year including the visit of H.E. Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh to Japan, as well as the two-time visits of Mr. Taro Kono, Foreign Minister of Japan to Bangladesh, all boosting the bilateral relationship between Japan and Bangladesh.
 
          Economic ties between our countries are also getting even stronger. A growing number of Japanese companies are showing interest to expand their business activities in Bangladesh. The number of Japanese companies in Bangladesh had decreased after the terrorist attack in 2016, but it has been re-increasing for the past two and half years, and now there are 269 Japanese businesses, thanks to substantial security measures provided by the Government of Bangladesh for Japanese nationals.
 
          2018 also marked a notable moment in terms of economic cooperation. Japan and Bangladesh signed the 39th ODA Loan, the largest ever package which adds up to 200.371 billion yen (approximately BDT 14,800 crore or USD1.8 billion) last year. This ODA package includes projects such as Matarbari Port Development Project, Jamuna Railway Bridge Construction Project or Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project (so-called ‘Dhaka Metro Project). I am sure that these projects will further promote the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt Initiative (BIG-B). The second bridges of Kanchpur, Meghna and Gumti on Route 1, which are expected to be completed this year, will alleviate the chronic traffic congestion between Dhaka and Chittagon, enhancing the connectivity of the two cities. I am pleased to inform you that Japan is the single largest bilateral donor for Bangladesh, and Bangladesh is the second largest Japanese ODA recipient after India.
 
          We also put great emphasis on promoting cultural ties and people-to-people exchanges. Last year alone, 122 Bangladeshi students were awarded government-funded MEXT scholarship, while 33 young officials received JDS (Japanese Grant Aid for Human resources Development Scholarship) or YLP (Young Leaders Program) scholarship. We also invited 90 high school and university students for academic and cultural programs held in Japanese local cities. JICA hosted various different training programs in Japan for 63 Bangladesh professionals, while AOTS/HIDA (The Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnership (formerly known as HIDAC The Overseas Human Resource and Industry Development Association)) invited around 200 professionals for short-term trainings in Japan. In terms of cultural exchange, last year Embassy of Japan organized events introducing Japanese culture such as Japan Fest. I also would like to mention here that there are approximately 4,800 Bangladeshi people learning Japanese language, and we have been annually organizing Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) as well as Japanese Language Speech Contest to encourage them to deepen their proficiency and motivation. Speaking of Japanese pop-culture, it is my pleasure to announce that we will soon start to broadcast a Bengali-dubbed Japanese animation titled ‘Chibi Maruko Chan’ in order to further enhance our cultural ties especially among young people in Bangladesh.
 
          Last but not least, I wish you good health and great success in 2019.
 
Hiroyasu Izumi
Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh.

       
Biography of Ambassador Hiroyasu Izumi
 
Born in Hiroshima
2017.8 Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh
2016.4 Director-General, Foreign Service Training Institute, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2013.7 Minister Plenipotentiary, Embassy of Japan in United States
2010.7 Consul-General of Japan in Shanghai
2006.8 Minister, Embassy of Japan in China
2004.4   Director, China Division, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2003.4   Director, Overseas Establishments Division, Minister's Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2001.4   Director, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1998.8 Counsellor, Embassy of Japan in China
1998.1 Counsellor, Embassy of Japan in United Kingdom
1996.7 First Secretary, Embassy of Japan in United Kingdom
1981.4 Entered Ministry of Foreign Affairs