Dhaka to seek Tokyo role in Rohingya repatriation

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 00:06, Feb 24,2021


Bangladesh will seek Japan’s support for the repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland of Rakhine in Myanmar, said government officials.

The matter is likely to be raised in foreign secretary-level talks, known as foreign office consultation between the two countries, on Thursday.

Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen and Japanese senior deputy foreign minister Hiroshi Suzuki will lead respective sides in the talks through videoconferencing from two capitals.

A ‘stronger engagement of Japan’ will be helpful for facilitating the repatriation of the Rohingyas to Rakhine as the East Asian country maintains strong connections with Myanmar than many other countries do, said a Bangladesh government official.

He said that the sides would also discuss potentials for increasing Japanese investment in Bangladesh, bilateral trade, human resource development and scopes for expediting the use of Japanese development assistance to Bangladesh.

Issues relating to Indo-Pacific Strategy, propagated by Japan, India, Australia and the US, are likely to be discussed as a part of initiative for free movement of goods and services in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific region, he added.   

The Bangladesh government will also propose a joint feasibility study on a proposal for signing a free trade agreement between two countries.

Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said on Tuesday that they would discuss ways for developing a strategic partnership between the two countries.

Japan is engaged in Rakhine state of Myanmar for installing peace and stability which can create an enabling environment for the repatriation, Japanese ambassador Ito Naoki said in Dhaka in December last year.

The repatriation of Rohingyas should begin in 2021 for installing peace and stability in the region, he said.

Some 8.6 lakh 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, according to the UN agencies.

Two attempts to start repatriation failed in 2018 as not a single Rohingya expressed willingness to go back to Myanmar citing lack of conducive environment and security in Rakhine.

The latest Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to over 1.1 million, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.

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