ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday called on the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo and discussed with him matters of mutual interests.
The foreign minister conveyed greetings from the Government and people of Pakistan, according to the ministry of foreign office’s spokesperson. During the meeting, both leaders expressed the desire to further enhance bilateral engagement and cooperation in different fields.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who has been on a four-day visit to Japan, on Monday said his country does not have time for “bloc politics” and it rather wants to deliver jobs for the prosperity of its people.
The remarks by the Pakistani foreign minister came during his address with attendees at the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) in Tokyo, where he spoke on the topic “Pakistan and Japan in the Asian Context.” He said the two countries shared important convergences in terms of their outlook and vision for the region despite being situated in different corners of the Asian continent.
Bhutto-Zardari called Japan the “original Asian success story” and said Pakistan, like other Asian countries, had enormously benefited from Japan’s experience and example as it had been Pakistan’s key development partner, an important source of foreign direct investment and industrial infrastructure, including its automobile industry.
“As a developing country facing serious economic and environmental challenges, Pakistan simply does not have time for the Cold War-style bloc politics that sadly seem to be making a comeback. We want to focus on delivering jobs and prosperity to our 230 million people – two-thirds of whom are below 30 years of age,” he said.
“We can only do this by leveraging our strategic location at the crossroads of Central and South Asia to foster economic connectivity and generate growth. This vision is the moving force behind our shift from geopolitics to geo-economics. This is not just a rhetorical change but is rooted in the realization that business-as-usual is no longer an option.”
Bhutto-Zardari arrived in Tokyo on Saturday at the invitation of the Japanese leadership. The Pakistani foreign minister has engaged with Japanese leaders, including his counterpart, and met the Pakistani diaspora in the country, members of the business community, and the private sector.
The visit by the foreign minister of Pakistan, a close ally of China, comes at a time of heightened tension as the United States moves to forge closer ties with allies Japan and South Korea to push back against China’s growing regional influence.
With regard to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as a key component of this vision for enhanced connectivity, he said the opportunities created in Pakistan’s industrial, agricultural and energy sectors as a result of CPEC and other Chinese projects were not exclusive to any one country.
“Japanese firms have experience of working successfully and profitably in Pakistan. Their expertise in building infrastructure is second to none,” he said. “By joining hands, we can create a robust and efficient infrastructure network, boosting regional connectivity, and enhancing trade volumes not only between our two countries but also across the entire region.”
Pakistan, Japan agree to expand bilateral relations in multiple areas
Pakistan and Japan on Monday agreed to further deepen and enhance their mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in multiple areas including trade, investment, human resource development and exchange, IT, tourism and agriculture sectors.
“We have also jointly agreed to explore the possibility of working together on targeted programs with higher impact in the domains of solarization, desalination and water purification and housing and infrastructure rebuilding in the floods affected areas in Pakistan, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said in a joint press statement along with his Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi in Tokyo. Earlier the two ministers held a meeting in a cordial environment. Both Ministers appreciated the free bilateral relations while expressing readiness to engage further.
In addition, the two sides have agreed to conduct language skill assessment tests for the Japanese language in Pakistan to facilitate the movement of the skilled workforce.
FM Bilawal said the two sides also identified the import of young Pakistani skilled human resources to Japan and their language training to be a prime area of cooperation. “We also deliberated on investments and joint ventures by Japanese enterprises in Pakistan.”
During his visit, he said he would also interact with the private sector, local media as well as think-tanks to further broaden our engagement. I believe that both sides need to stay engaged at all levels to further positive dialogue and continue exploring more avenues of cooperation. The foreign minister also invited his Japanese counterpart to visit Pakistan at your convenience to further our discussions. He said Pakistan and Japan were longstanding friends and share a special bond based on deep-rooted linkages that go far in history and time.
The people of Pakistan carry a deep sentiment of warmth and affection for Japan and the Japanese people. We have always stood with each other in times of need, he said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said last year, they had seen new energy and vigour in the relationship through continued high-level exchanges. “I also had the honour to meet Minister Hayashi at Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 4 August 2022 on the sidelines of the 29th Ministerial Meeting of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Today we continued our discussions from that meeting,” he added.