The diplomatic community of Islamabad is feeling and noting improvement in the economic situation in the country but still Pakistan has to go a long way to narrow if not fill, the gap of income, expenditures, payments and liabilities. The next elections and formation of elected government are supposed to bring stability, continuity in the policies and end of ambiguity about, who to contact, where to go and what to do. Therefore , economic indicators are expected to raise hopes of betterment in post-February 2024 time.
The economic crisis in Pakistan has affected the big trade partners like Japan as well. Ambassador WADA Mitsuhiro in a meeting with journalists expressed his determination and commitment to do his best to maintain the volume of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries but certainly the challenge is big and aim is hard to achieve without the reciprocal approach to not only maintain the cooperation through this economic crisis but increase the volume as well, exploring new avenues of shared development and mutual benefit.
“Pakistan is currently facing a difficult time amid the current economic situation . I would like to do my best to ensure that the business relationship between the two countries does not suffer any setbacks, said Mr. Mitsuhiro, Ambassador of Japan.
Ambassador of Japan to Pakistani H.E WADA Mitsuhiro introduced his team to the journalists. The representatives from Political, Economic and Development Sections were present at the occasion. Their names are JICA’s Chief Representative Mr. Kinoshita, Mr. ITO Takeshi Deputy Chief of Mission,Mr. Tadayoshi Hiraki , Commercial Attache,Mr. Kazumasa TAKANE Head of Culture and Public Information Section,Mr. KAWAMURA Kenta, Economic Development Counselor, Mr. MIZUSAWA Maki , First Secretary and ABUMI Hiroki, Third Secretary
Foreign Minister (former)Bilalwal Bhutto Zardari visited Japan in July 2023 and met with Japanese counterpart in Tokyo. Both had open and frank exchange of views on further enhance the existing cooperation . Pakistan Japan have several high level consultation frameworks including Foreign Secretary Level Political Dialogue, which was held in June 2023. In the coming year and beyond, Japan will make use of the frameworks to move bilateral relations forward.
Today, more than 80 Japanese companies are doing their business in Pakistan with a creation of more than 80 thousand jobs, with their multi million dollar investments promoting bilateral economic cooperation and providing employments to thousands of Pakistanis. They have shared and transferred their knowledge, experiences and technology. Japanese companies are facilitating Pakistani manufacturers at all stages with their know how and raw material as well.
For example, Japan’s artificial leather, stainless steel, and other materials are being used in Sialkot in the production of high-quality soccer balls, surgical instruments and sports wears for export to the rest of the world. Ambassador Japan recently led the representatives of Japanese companies to Sialkot where they observed the production with Japanese raw materials.
Here we can recall our interview with Ambassador Imtiaz Ahmad who recommended value added manufacturing in Pakistan to increase the exports to Japan. If Pakistani manufacturing sector can upgrade their capabilities like Sialkot has proved, the exports from Pakistan can find new markets in the world including Japan. Pakistani exports had to bear big jolt after 1999 when Japan shifted to China and other countries for Cotton Yarn. Pakistan was exporting Cotton worth $400 to 500 Million at that time. With value added products, Pakistan can restore this share in trade with Japan.
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Pakistan Japan are major trade partners of each other. Japan has invested in Pakistan in diversified fields including social uplift, cultural interactions, technology, infrastructure etc. Japanese exports to Pakistan are $1.69 Billion while Pakistani exports stand at $230 Million.
On humanitarian side, Japan is contributing generously for the restoration of flood affected people. Pakistan experienced the largest flood in its history last year . Prime Minister Japan Mr. Kishida expressed solidarity with Pakistan. He said ,”Japan will always be with Pakistan and will spare no effort to provide the necessary support for the earliest possible recovery of the affected areas.”
Japan pledged approximately 77 million US dollars, in January 2023, in assistance for the recovery from the flood damage, more than half of which has already been disbursed. As part of this pledge , a great aid project was singed last month. This is a project to rebuild 9 schools or 44 class rooms in Sindh Province . JICA and Gov of Sindh are implementing this project. Japan has been providing development assistance to Pakistan since 1954 and both countries will celebrate 70th anniversary of ODA cooperation next year.The two countries celebrated the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relation last year.
Cultural and people to people exchanges are the foundation of the Japan Pakistan relationship. This year , Embassy of Japan is holding events such as a Karate session and a Japanese film festival, as well as conducting scholarship programs as in previous years.
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Gov of Japan has conferred the Imperial Decorations on Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad, former Ambassador to Japan. He learnt Japanese language and contributed to strengthening friendship , cultural and economic relations and mutual understanding. Followed by him, Dr. Gazala Irfan, President of Pakistan Japan Cultural Association Lahore has also been conferred the honor for her contributions on the promotion of the cultural relationships for many years.
Ambassador WADA Mitsuhiro is looking forward to more and more young people of Japan and Pakistan will become interested in each other’s culture and people, and further develop bilateral relations towards the 80th,90th and 100th anniversaries of our relationship.
Here it is worth noting that Technical Training Intership Program between two countries is helping Pakistani youth related to IT sector find employment in Japan. Moreover, approximately 23 thousand Pakistanis in Japan are playing their constructive role in the economy of both countries. Most of them deal in used cars and vehicles export to more than 70 countries in the world.
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Pakistani youth can contact to Japanese organizations to avail the opportunity for Pakistani IT experts. A portal FITE is available where CVs can be submitted. There is an office of PLUS W at NUST that can also be contacted in this regard.
Former Ambassador of Pakistan, Mr. Imtiaz shared in an interview , ” We have signed 2 agreements in 2019. Technical Intern Training Program TITP is for the trainees who are presently going to Japan where they are paid a remuneration during the training.
Second is Specified Skilled Workers SSW program in which skilled professionals with Japanese language proficiency only can apply. We are trying that a center is established in Pakistan for skills test.”
Two Japanese companies dealing in food and fruit are working on joint ventures in Sindh. They are HOKKEN in Mushroom and ANERGEE in Strawberry business. HOKKEN holds 50% business of Mushroom in Japan. The representatives of the companies visited farm houses in internal Sindh.
Ambassador WADA Mitsuhiro is determined and committed to further developing long-standing friendship through various channels. He considers press and media as important part of the efforts to enhancing the mutual cooperation. Same is true for the concerned ministries of Pakistan to keep Embassy of Japan engaged and respond to the proposals, suggestions in this regard as soon as possible.
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