Pakistan's relations with Japan have stood the test of time since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two in April, 1952. Both have convergent views on practically all international issues and have supported each other at various world forums. It was Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Sir Zafarullah Khan, attending the San Francisco Peace Conference in June 1951, who propagated for Japan as an equal in the communion of peace loving nations against the aftermath of the Second World War and supporting Japan for its membership to the United Nations in 1956.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2013
Japan is a major trading partner as well as a donor to Pakistan. Japan has been a member of the Aid to Pakistan Consortium since 1961 and has been regularly assisting Pakistan with its development programs by providing financial support. The average annual assistance from Japan over the years have been Dollars 600 Million which includes project loans for infra-structure development, outright grant assistance for the development of social sectors such as Health and Education and technical assistance for the promotion of expertise and technology transfer. Japan is amongst the top donors of bilateral assistance to Pakistan. Total assistance to Pakistan so far is well in excess of Dollars 12.00 Billion. It was Japan who hostedthe Friends of Democratic Pakistan Conference (FDOP) in April, 2009 inviting all friendly countries to make pledges in order to support Pakistan in its development efforts after returning to democracy. Pledges of over Dollars 6 Billion were made by various participating countries, with the President of Pakistan himself attending.
Pakistan-Japan Business Forum (PJBF) is a Bi-Lateral forum established 12 years ago with a view to promote trade and investments between the two friendly countries. To achieve this objective, the formation of its Board of Directors comprises of ten Directors each from Pakistan and from Japan elected for a period of 3 years. Currently, it is led by Sohail P. Ahmed of Thal Engineering as its Chairman with Shunichi Katagiri, the country General Manager of Sumitomo Corporation as the Senior Vice Chairman representing the Japanese side.The Consul General of Japan in Karachi, Akira Ouchi is the Patron with the Ambassador of Japan in Islamabad, Hiroshi Inomata, and the Patron-in-Chief. Amongst the various activities of the forum is holding of gatherings inviting the decision makers in the government related to business matters which include the Ministers, Secretaries as well as CEO's of related organisations such as Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Board of Investment (BOI), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the like. Members interact with them as it provides them with a platform to air their views and seek help on matters of interest to their businesses thereby directly bringing it to the knowledge of the concerned.
Participation in exhibitions such as Expo Pakistan under Japanese Umbrella, arranging trainings both in Pakistan and in Japan on specialised subjects, managing and linking trade delegations to visit Japan and interact with their potential counterparts as well as liaising with Embassies in both countries to ensure the maximum utilisation of their presence for the business community, are amongst the few initiatives that are undertaken by the Forum. PJBF has also taken the lead to call upon all heads of Bi-Lateral Business Forums operating in Pakistan to jointly come up with a working paper highlighting issues common to all which can then be taken up with the government for corrective measures.
The counter part of PJBF in Japan is Japan-Pakistan Business Co-operation Committee (JPBCC) and which is currently headed Mr. Teruo Asada, the Chairman of Marubeni Corporation, and itself a conglomerate in Japan. Delegations between the two alternatively take place each year for what is called the "Joint Dialogue". Meetings are arranged for Government to Government (G to G) negotiations as well as Business to Business (B to B) interaction. Early next year, JPBCC is to visit Pakistan for the Joint Dialogue which will primarily aim at discussing the progress since the last dialogue and to sign yet another memorandum of understanding reached after the deliberations and addressing the impediments standing in the way of trade and investments as well as the areas where support and contribution towards achieving it can be made by either side. Pakistan's Ambassador to Japan, Farukh Amil, is in regular touch with both JPBCC in Tokyo as well as with PJBF in Pakistan to assist in the matters of investments and improvement in trade; hence supporting the aim of Public Private Partnership which is essential for growth in any country.
The Honourable Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal, in his visit to Tokyo earlier this month for the Infra Structure Conference organised by Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) which too has an office in Karachi, had taken time to call upon JPBCC Chairman to discuss the forthcoming Dialogue in Pakistan to be hosted and co-ordinated by PJBF. Taking the opportunity of his presence in Tokyo, he had also called upon the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Taro Aso and State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Midori Matsushima. Such meetings have always been reciprocal and have immensely contributed towards better understanding between the two friendly nations.