Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari  Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a meeting in Tokyo on July 3, 2023. Image Credit: Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Islamabad: Pakistan and Japan have agreed to enhance their bilateral cooperation in various sectors, including trade, IT, solar energy, and the movement of skilled workers.

The understanding was reached during the official visit of Pakistan’s foreign minister to Tokyo. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met his Japanese counterpart, Yoshimasa Hayashi, in Tokyo on Monday. The foreign ministers agreed to strengthen cooperation in multiple areas, such as trade, investment, human resource development, exchange programs, IT, tourism, and agriculture.

“We have also jointly agreed to explore the possibility of working together on targeted programmes with higher impact in the domains of solarisation, desalination and water purification and housing and infrastructure rebuilding in the floods affected areas in Pakistan,” Foreign Minister Bilawal said in a joint press statement.

Later on July 3, FM Bilawal also met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Both expressed the desire to further enhance engagement and cooperation in different fields, according to Pakistan Foreign Office.

Skilled workforce and investments

Pakistani and Japanese officials acknowledged the importance of language skills in facilitating the movement of skilled workers between the two countries. They agreed to conduct language skill assessment tests for Japanese language proficiency in Pakistan, aiming to promote the import of young Pakistani skilled human resources to Japan and provide them with language training. The two sides discussed the possibility of increasing people-to-people exchanges and facilitating the acceptance of Pakistani workers under Japan’s Specified Skilled Worker Program.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi expressed hope that Pakistan would maximize its economic potential by improving the business environment. They also discussed investments and joint ventures by Japanese enterprises in Pakistan. The two ministers had candid discussions on international cooperation and regional affairs, during which Hayashi shared the outcomes of the G7 Hiroshima Summit as the G7 Presidency. During his four-day (July 1-4) visit, the Pakistani foreign minister will also interact with the private sector, local media, and think tanks to further broaden the engagement.

Strengthening Pakistan-Japan ties

Pakistan’s Foreign Office stated that the visit is part of the country’s efforts to engage with Japanese leadership and revitalise the longstanding friendship between the two nations after a long hiatus. The discussions between the foreign ministers were described as productive, with both sides expressing their commitment to deepening the bilateral relationship.

In his statement, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto expressed gratitude to the Japanese leadership for their support of Pakistan’s social and economic development, particularly in response to the massive floods in Pakistan last year. Last month, Japan announced a grant aid of 315 million Japanese Yen (US$2.25 million) for the Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) program, which offers Pakistani government officials the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees in Japan, focusing on public administration.