The Policy Times, Dhaka Bureau :
On 14th and 15th March 2021, a regional seminar “The Bay of Bengal as Connectivity Hub in Indo-Pacific Region” was held at Independent University Bangladesh (IUB). The seminar was organized by the Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies, IUB, and was supported by the Embassy of Japan, the High Commission of India, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank. Foreign Minister Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, MP addressed at the inaugural session as the chief guest, and PM’s International Affairs Adviser Dr. Gowher Rizvi addressed at the concluding session as the chief guest.
Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh Mr. ITO Naoki emphasized the importance of bringing Bangladesh into a hub of regional connectivity, bridging South Asia to Southeast and East Asia, through realizing mega infrastructure projects under the initiative of “Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt (BIG-B)”, such as Matarbari Deep-Sea Port, Dhaka MRT, and Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Extension, which will strategically significant for Bangladesh to increase its economic opportunities.
His Excellency Mr. Naoki also elaborated the vision of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), which shares common values with India’s IPOI (Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative), and expressed Japan’s intention to make a full effort to realize the Free and Open Indo Pacific in collaboration with Bangladesh.
Prof. Tanaka Akihiko, President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), ex-President of JICA spoke at the session “MIDI, BIG-B”. Prof. Tanaka said “The Indo-Pacific region is becoming the global center of economic gravity. The vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific is based on this historic trend. Preservation of peace is the essential condition of its realization.”
Mr. Nishida Ippeita, Senior Research Fellow, Sasakawa Peace Foundation spoke at the session on “The Bay of Bengal as Gateway to the East”; Mr. Nishida pointed out the strategic eminence of the Bay of Bengal region for Japan would outgrow. He also suggested Japan take active roles in shaping the regional debate and addressing vulnerabilities, as connectivity to the east would bring a profound impact on the outlook of the Indo-Pacific environment.