The year 2022 marks 70 years of Pakistan-Japan diplomatic ties. During these years, the bilateral ties have progressed, with the prime focus being on social development. Japan has supported Pakistan in areas of health, agriculture, water supply and disaster management. In 2019, the Government of Japan extended grand aid of $82.12 million to Pakistan. Japan is one of the largest trading partners of Pakistan with an annual trade of $1.5 billion. The Japanese automobile sector enjoys 90 per cent of their vehicles in Pakistan. Japanese company Toyota Motors has announced investing in hybrid cars in Pakistan with an initial investment of $100 million. In the development sector, Japan has been in a lead role in Pakistan. Japan-funded projects in Pakistan include the Indus Highway, Thermal Power Station Jamshoro, Bin Qasim Thermal Power Station and Kohat Tunnel. The ongoing project of ‘Gravity Flow Water Supply Scheme’ in Haripur city is built with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) assistance. The project is based on cost-effective water supply arrangements and it will provide drinking water to the residents of Haripur city.
Another sight of Japan is the industrial progress. Japan’s industry is a role model for developing economies like Pakistan. Japan’s industrialisation has been accompanied by development of its education sector. The education sector has been the force behind the country’s industrial growth. Pakistan desirous of economic growth needs to develop the socio-economic indicators and for that the education sector needs to be a priority. With educated masses, the country’s backward areas will be empowered and that will be a significant contribution towards industrialisation.
Recently, Japan has expressed keen interest in hiring of IT professionals from Pakistan. Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan Mitsuhiro Wada and Federal Minister for IT & Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque met on 26 April, 2022 and discussed the prospects of cooperation in the IT sector. The inclusion of Pakistan in the JDS (Human Resource Development Scholarship by Japanese Grant Aid) Scholarship Program is yet another positive development. The scholarship program will allow 20 Pakistani students to study in Japanese universities. The Memoranda of Cooperation on Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) and Special Skilled Workers (SSW) Program between Pakistan and Japan (signed February 2019) will open up Japanese market for Pakistani workers. The bilateral institutional arrangement is a channel towards technological exchange. For Pakistan such an arrangement will develop the human resource and will contribute towards economic growth. A JICA-led project in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Sindh School Education & Literacy Department is to address the issue of out-of-school children (approximately 22.8 million in the country currently). The joint endeavour is a four-year plan (February 2022-2026), and is being piloted in schools in Sindh.
In the evolving political milieu, economic corridors are likely to define the regional course. Through South Asia’s connectivity with Northeast Asia (via CPEC), the Pakistan-Japan relations can find new avenues of cooperation and trading. The Special Economic Zones being built along the trading corridors can be an attractive site for Japanese investors.
Meanwhile, to develop as a modern country, Pakistan will have to look towards the advanced economies. For instance to expand the fruit industry, options relating to processed fruits and better packaging can be explored. In this regard, Pakistan in cooperation with Japan can open up factories. Tourism is another area which needs appropriate projection. Pakistan is home to ancient Gandhara civilisation and Buddhist relics. The tourists from Japan might like to visit the archeological Buddhist sites in Pakistan. This will also encourage people-to-people interaction between Japan and Pakistan.
Note: This article appeared in Tribune, dated 17 May 2022.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are of the author and do not necessarily represent Institute’s policy.