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Japanese state minister to visit Pakistan

By Mariana Baabar
August 28, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Kazuyuki Nakane, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, will be the first foreign dignitary to visit Pakistan after the formation of PTI-led government.

He will be arriving on a two-day visit on August 30 to further consolidate “excellent bilateral relations”. Japan’s stated position is that, “it will continue to support the stable development of Pakistan which makes efforts to defeat extremism and to carry out economic reforms.”

2017 had seen the two countries celebrating 65 years of diplomatic relations when Japan said it saw Pakistan “with its geopolitical significance, playing a prominent role for regional stability, and was vitally important to the stability and prosperity of the international community. Japan is ready to cooperate closely with Pakistan for stability and development of the region”.

There has been a deep lull in high-profile visits by the two sides, as it was far back in 2005 when Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Pakistan and later it was President Asif Ali Zardari who visited Tokyo in 2011.

Kazuyuki Nakane’s visit was earlier taken up by the Japanese ambassador in a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Banigala, when he called to congratulate him. Khan responded that his government would welcomethese existing “excellent bilateral relations”.

Important is also the fact that it was the Japanese media that Finance Minister Asad Umer gave his first foreign interview to in which the minister stressed bilateral trade. Nakane will be followed by high-profile visits from the United States, Iran and China.

“During his stay in Islamabad, the state minister will meet the leadership of the Government of Pakistan and discuss matters of mutual interest as well as bilateral relations”, spokesman for the Embassy of Japan said in a statement.

The state minister will also witness the signing ceremony of economic development assistance projects to Pakistan by the Government of Japan. Nakane’s arrival should be seen in the background of Tokyo’s apprehensions about Pakistan’s involvement in CEPEC, and after a long time, is sending a senior emissary to woo Pakistan in the field of bilateral trade.

Earlier Senator Mushahid Hussein told The News, “It is possible that Japan wants to balance their pro-India tilt while wanting to maintain some economic and political profile in the context of such strong CEPEC ties between Islamabad and Beijing. Twenty five years ago Tokyo was one of Pakistan’s biggest donors, a role that China has now taken over, surely after such a huge gap they would want to regain lost ground”. Japan takes a different view when its foreign minister told the Pakistani media that CPEC should serve stability and prosperity in the region.

“Japan has contributed to improving the road traffic network in Pakistan through various projects including development of the Indus Highway and the Kohat Tunnel. Moreover, the construction of the Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower Project and the strengthening of national transmission lines and grid stations which were supported by Japan have achieved the increase in electric supply capacity,” Japanese Foreign Minister stated.