Karachi: They say that a friend in need is a friend indeed and a true example of this is Pakistan-Japan’s strong bond of friendship. For the past 60 years, not once did both of the friends leave each other’s hand. Despite having their friendship tested for more than once and crossing various difficult phases, both stood their grounds. Pakistan enjoys cordial relations with Japan since 28th April 1952.
Their friendship started in the early 1950s when the agro-based country, Pakistan, started producing one of world’s finest cotton. Japan’s advanced spindles and other textile machinery helped to start industrialization in Pakistan. With time, both the countries became good trading partners. Toyota, Yamaha and Sony have become household names in Pakistan. The Japanese products are taken for their higher standard and quality. In a way Japan has not only helped Pakistan in industrialization but also brought about a social revolution with its electronic and communication devices widely used by both well-off urban and poor rural people of this country.
With the industrial revolution brought in Japan in 1960s, its economic recovery receiving boost, Japan started extending Yen loan assistance to Pakistan. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, this assistance to Pakistan was doubled. In the post 9/11 period, Pakistan shared perception on counter terrorism therefore Japan afforded Pakistan with all possible assistance.
It is pretty obvious from the past that the foundation of this friendship is on economical grounds, but none knew that this friendship would prosper gradually. Japan presented Pakistan with technical assistance in 1954, and grant aid in 1970. The Pakistan resident office of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was established in April 1983, and of Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF), the former body of what is now Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) in October 1989.
Japan is the fourth largest investment partner of Pakistan with cumulative investment of US$ 385.9 million during the period of 1989-90 to 2003-2004, constituting 5% of the total investment in Pakistan. Over the years, Japan has played a vital role as a major investor and top donor in Pakistan. Pakistan, at the present, ranks the seventh position among all the recipients of Japan’s Official Development Assistance in terms of total volume of ODA.
In addition to ODA, Japan has been offering financial and technological assistance to Pakistan to cope with natural disasters like floods, and earthquakes. This technical assistance provided through JICA. JICA has also been at fore front in providing assistance in the field of education and training. It has given great impetus to cultural exchanges of people of both the countries who shared common perception on their family life and other social aspects. Thus people to people contact has ensured understanding and cordiality between two people. Relations between Pakistan and Japan are marked by trust and respect for each other’s concerns and interests. Pakistan regards it as a helpful friend and a reliable development partner.
Japan’s financial assistance not only benefited Pakistan’s declining economy but it also helped improve Pakistan’s social infrastructure. The major projects, which have been funded by the Government of Japan, include the Indus Highway Project, a number of power projects in various provinces of Pakistan, Rural Roads Construction Project and the Children Hospital PIMS Islamabad Project. Presently the Kohat Tunnel Project and the Ghazi Brotha Dam Project are being completed with the help of the Japanese assistance. The most important aspect of this support is that it focuses on human needs and social development rather politically and strategically motivated as the American aid is. Therefore it has more lasting impact on the minds of people of Pakistan who rever Japan as a benevolent nation.
Over the years, Japan has become one of the most important countries in the calculus of Pakistan’s foreign policy. There has been a regular exchange of high level visits between the two countries. Both have often backed each other at international forums. It is a measure of the state of sound bilateral relations that the annual Foreign Secretary-level consultations; the high-level Economic Policy Dialogue; the Security Dialogue and the Government-Private Sector Business Dialogue have become institutionalized.
There has been difference of opinion on nuclear issue of Pakistan but Japan as a national policy has been against nuclear proliferation. But it has treated India and Pakistan equally. It has also realized that Pakistan nuclear program is in self defence and has been kept as deterrence and Pakistan stand on this issue has been vindicated as it averted war between India and Pakistan for a reasonable time.
All though the nuclear issue puts a little bit hindrance in Pakistan-Japan’s cordiality, but as it seems the understanding between both the countries is mutually strong and they shall not let any issue ruin it. Therefore, Pakistan always looks up to Japan when she is in need, and will thus try to strengthen the friendship for as long as it can. Japan wholeheartedly reciprocates the feelings of love and peace to Pakistan and looks forward to maintaining these relations in the coming years.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author’s name is Eleze Tariq and she is a student of The City School, Darakhshan Campus. Currently, she is in her first year of O’ levels and shall be graduating the next year InshAllah. She has always had a keen interest in studying about international relations between different countries of the world and seeking resolutions to curtail the different problems faced by people around the whole world. In October 2011, she had attended the Model United Nations Conference of the G-20. In the G-20 of the ROTMUN she was representing Japan and she is proud to say that she actively participated in drafting a resolution for the agenda before the committee.