Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono cancelled his visit to Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi in the capital scheduled for Tuesday.
Kono, who was in Dhaka on a 14-hour visit, stressed the need in his meetings for ensuring safety, security and conducive atmosphere for Japanese investment in Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh side sought Japan’s support for resolving Myanmar’s ongoing crisis involving persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority group with their expeditious repatriation to Rakhine State for regional stability.
Kono, on the other hand, stressed, during joint press briefing, that Bangladesh and Myanmar should resolve the Rohingya crisis through bilateral discussions for ensuring safe and voluntary repatriation of Rohingya people.
A Japanese diplomat, familiar with the matter, told New Age on Tuesday evening that Kono’s visit to the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum was cancelled on security grounds. ‘Situation was not conducive for visit to the museum due to violence involving the student protests and an attack on a car of the US ambassador,’ said the Japanese official.
Japanese embassy in Dhaka informed the Bangladesh side in a diplomatic note on Monday night about cancellation of Kono’s visit to the museum.
Kono avoided a question at the briefing on why he cancelled the pre-scheduled visit to the museum.
He, however, expressed hope in his statement that student protest would calm down in a peaceful manner. Bangladesh foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali also spoke at the briefing.
‘We agreed on the vital importance of stability in the region for building stronger economic partnership between our two countries and early realisation of safe and secure return of the Rohingyas is the key,’ Ali said at the joint press briefing held after bilateral talks between the two sides.
The two ministers agreed on the need to create conducive atmosphere with ensuring security and livelihood for sustainable return of the Rohingya people in Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Kono, earlier on the day, called on prime minister Sheikh Hasina and informed that Japan asked Myanmar to speed up the construction of houses, schools and other infrastructures in Rakhine to ensure the proper shelter of Rohingyas after their repatriation from Bangladesh, PM’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.
Describing both Bangladesh and Myanmar as comprehensive partners of Japan, Kono, who met Myanmar de facto leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi on Monday, told Sheikh Hasina that he asked the Myanmar leaders to return the internally displaced Rohingyas from different parts of their country to their places of origin, according to United News of Bangladesh.
Sheikh Hasina requested Japan to persuade Myanmar so that they take back the Rohingyas from Bangladesh at the earliest.
‘They must return. Myanmar signed a MoU and agreed to take back Rohingyas, but they didn’t take any action to that end,’ she said.
More than one million Rohingyas have been living in Bangladesh and that is a huge pressure on the country, she said, adding that, ‘they also outnumbered our local people, they’ve taken shelter occupying cultivable lands…local peoples are also suffering.’
Foreign countries and international agencies can also assist Myanmar in the repatriation process too, said the prime minister.
Kono also sought Bangladesh’s support for Japan in the 2022 election for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council and in elections in some other global bodies, officials said.
Immediately after arrival at about 12.15pm, Kono visited the place of Holey Artisan Bakery at Gulshan, where seven Japanese citizens were among those killed in an extremist attack on July 1, 2016. He was scheduled to leave Dhaka on Tuesday night.
About 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.
The ongoing Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.
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