It is a matter of great pleasure to address on this auspices occasion of the 40th anniversary of Japan-Bangladesh diplomatic relation. It is a day still we remember as the big day for Bangladeshis when the news broke out in radio & television. It was again the most welcome news to all Bangladeshis when the announcement of this diplomatic recognition came on Feb. 10th, 1972.
This recognition made the door open for Bangladesh to have bilateral relation with Japan. The people of Bangladesh always preferred this relationship for a long time. During the period of British India, our people from Bengal visited Japan many times and showed deep interest in Japanese people & culture. Mrs.Hariprova Mallick of Dhaka is the first Bengal woman to visit Japan in 1912 as wife of a young Japanese gentleman. Her husband, Mr. Uemon Takeda, came to Dhaka for doing business. She wrote the very first book (Bongo Mohilar Japan Jatra) on Japan in Bengali in 1915. Rabindranath Tagore, the world famous poet of Bengal, is known as widely travelled person of his age and visited Japan first in 1916. He visited Japan five times and wrote books on Japan.
It may be from the various writings, Bangladeshis got an impression of Japan as a friendly country & had this feeling long before our independence. There is a book on liberation of our war which contains many accounts of our sufferings & atrocities. Mr. Tadamasa Fukiura wrote this remarkable book on our liberation war. He was in Dhaka as a responsible officer of Red Cross team. Happily, his book is now translated in Bengali (Rokto o Kada) by Mr. Watanabe Kazuhiro, the chief of Bangla Department, NHK World.
After the establishment of diplomatic relation, Japan gradually became a big donor country of Bangladesh. They extended their hands in rebuilding Bangladesh from the ashes of liberation war and gave assistance to different projects of economic, technical cooperation & cultural exchanges. Those assistances truly helped us in rebuilding our economy and infrastructure. Among all the ODA loans given to Bangladesh, the JOCV program in Bangladesh is very laudable one. It made the door open for general people of both countries to work and sweats together. It helped in growing their kinship and friendship as well. It enabled the young Bangladeshis to become expert on their respective technical fields and leading a better professional life. In 2009, a television company of Japan made a documentary (Chikyu Kando Haitatsunin Hashire Postman) on Mr. Kazuhiro Ogasawara, who was assigned in Natore as expert of agricultural machinery in 1985. It is an important document of friendship between the people of two countries.
I believe the efforts of JOCV volunteers are invaluable and made the people of two countries closer. It helped them to know each other. It is satisfaction that Bangladesh is a very favorable country to many volunteers. They visit host families & friends even after the ends of their period of assignments. Language skill plays a big role in their communication. Their language skill is again a very appreciable one. They learn Bengali and achieve it through hard training. Many of them are awarded prizes for their speeches in Bengali. Besides language, they also learn the various aspects of social & cultural values of Bangladesh. This training makes them perfect to associate with different people of Bangladesh. It may be mentioned here that Bangladesh receives volunteers from other countries as well but Japan is the only country who sends their volunteer with proper skill of Bengali language.
Since the JOCV program started in 1973, thousands of Japanese volunteers visited Bangladesh and established a bond of friendship between the two countries through their sincere & hard work. It is a big satisfaction that I had a little role in the process of their training at Komagane Training Center. I feel proud of them and appreciate their whole contribution in Bangladesh.