The Japanese government said Wednesday it will extend ¥132.7 billion (about $1.2 billion) in loans to Bangladesh to help the South Asian nation improve its infrastructure.
“We will work together for the development of Bangladesh and beyond and achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a joint news conference after meeting with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at his office.
Japan views Bangladesh as an important partner as Tokyo seeks to facilitate the flow of people and goods by building infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region, where China is expanding its influence.
The yen loans will be used to build a commercial port in Bangladesh’s southeast region and a high-speed railway in Dhaka, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Hasina said infrastructure is “critical,” adding that she got assurances from Abe that Japan will continue its support.
At the talks, Abe and Hasina also discussed the humanitarian issue pertaining to the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and agreed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism following a 2016 attack in Dhaka that killed 22 people, including seven Japanese.
“I thank the Japanese government for their generous support to handle the crisis and for their efforts to support the early repatriation of the displaced people to Myanmar,” Hasina said.
She called on Myanmar to create an “atmosphere” to realize their return.
The Japanese and Bangladeshi leaders agreed on the importance of maintaining U.N. Security Council resolutions until North Korea denuclearizes, Abe said. Hasina expressed support for Japan’s desire to become a permanent member of the U.N. body.
Japan and Bangladesh have close economic ties with a number of Japanese companies operating in the South Asian country. Japan exports steel and machinery to Bangladesh, which is a major exporter of clothes to Japan.
Hasina is visiting Japan for the fifth time since she became prime minister in 2009.