ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday urged Japan to enhance partnership with Pakistan in all sectors.

In a meeting with Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kazuyuki Nakane here, Imran Khan said Japan should support Pakistan in education sector, science, technological cooperation and vocational training as human resource development is a priority of his government.

The Prime Minister expressed the desire to work closely with Japan to expand bilateral cooperation in all areas, particularly in trade, investment, economic and human development.

He recalled that Japan External Trade Organisation in its 2018 report had recognised Pakistan as one of the top friendly destinations for Japanese investment. He conveyed Pakistan’s commitment to enhancing bilateral economic cooperation through facilitating Japanese businesses.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the role of economic assistance provided by Japan in social sector projects.

The Japanese minister expressed his country’s strong desire to strengthen existing friendly relations between the two countries based on long history of economic and development cooperation, said an official statement.

Bilateral relations, regional and international issues of mutual interest were discussed also discussed during the meeting. Avenues of multi-faceted cooperation between the two sides were discussed, including cooperation in education and health sectors as well as skill enhancement of the youth, it added. Both sides expressed firm resolve to increase interaction between the two countries, the statement added. The Prime Minister also extended invitation to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to visit Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Kazuyuki Nakane held a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Nakane expressed his earnest desire to further strengthen bilateral relations between Pakistan and Japan. 

“Both countries expressed firm resolve to increase high level interaction between the two countries,” said a statement released after the meeting. The Foreign Minister acknowledged the position of Japan as an important development partner.

While recognising the economic assistance provided by Japan, he invited Japanese investment in Special Economic Zones and assured facilitation to Japanese investors in all the sectors.

The Foreign Minister emphasized the need to correct the balance of trade, which is currently heavily tilted in favor of Japan. They agreed to explore ways in which bilateral economic cooperation can be strengthened. 

Nakane said the next round of Joint Government Business Dialogue would also be held during this year.  Qureshi recalled his last visit to Japan and thanked the Japanese government for holding the meeting of Friends of Democratic Pakistan in Tokyo.

The Foreign Minister also briefed the Japanese delegation on role of Gwadar Port in enhancing economic development, regional connectivity, peace and prosperity of the region.

Qureshi appreciated the setting up of weather surveillance radar project in Multan City, which is hometown of the Foreign Minister.

He acknowledged the role of this project which will enhance the capacity of Pakistani officials in disaster management. He also recalled and thanked the Japanese Government for their assistance to Pakistan during the devastating floods of 2010. The two sides exchanged views on all-encompassing bilateral cooperation, including human resource development, education and science and technology.

The Foreign Minister suggested to have institutional mechanisms between the two countries for cooperation in the field of human resource development, which is the priority sector of this government. Nakane also extended invitation to Qureshi to visit Japan.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has agreed to extend a grant assistance of Rs2.6 billion to Pakistan for the projects of strengthening weather forecast and Human Resource Development.

The notes to this effect were signed and exchanged between Takashi Kurai, Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan and Ahmad Hanif Orakzai, Additional Secretary for Economic Affairs Division, Pakistan in the presence of Kazuyuki Nakane, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Asad Umar, Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr Ghulam Rasul, Director General of Pakistan Meteorological Department and Yasuhiro Tojo, Chief Representative of JICA Pakistan Office.

The project for the installation of Weather Surveillance Radar in Multan City” worth around 2.1 billion Japanese Yen (Rs2.3 billion) and the project for Human Resource Development Scholarship worth around 330 million Japanese Yen (Rs360 million) on August 31, 2018.

At the signing ceremony, Kazuyuki Nakane stated: “Since the diplomatic relationship between the two countries was established in 1952, Japan has been supporting Pakistan’s stable and sustainable growth. Under the strong leadership of new Prime Minister Imran Khan along with the leadership for economic development, particularly, new Finance Minister Asad Umar, we believe that “Naya Pakistan” will be definitely realised with relevant measures to be taken by the new government and hope that these two projects will be of some help for further development of Pakistan and contribute to further strengthen the friendly relationship and cooperation between Japan and Pakistan.”

One project is the installation of Weather Surveillance Radar in Multan City, Japan places a high priority to disaster management in its development assistance for Pakistan. After signing Friday agreement, the total amount of assistance for weather forecasting of Pakistan has reached about 10 billion Japanese Yen (Rs10 billion). So far Japan has supported the installation of 4 weather radars in the cities of Islamabad, Karachi, Dera Ismail Khan and Rahim Yar Khan. With this project in Multan, out of eight weather radars altogether in Pakistan, five will be supported by Japan and will cover 80 per cent of the country and benefit 90 per cent of the whole population. The weather radar network will surely contribute to further strengthening the weather forecasting capability in Pakistan and help Pakistan become more resilient to future natural disasters.

The other project is for Human Resource Development Scholarship, Japan has been providing its technical cooperation to Pakistan for human resource development since 1954. Under “the Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship”, scholarship will be offered to Pakistani officers and they will study at universities in Japan for Master's / Doctor’s Degree with an objective to resolve development challenges in Pakistan. It is expected that the Pakistani officers who will obtain their degrees will play a pivotal and note-worthy role in the socio-economic development of Pakistan in the future and thereby strengthen the existing cordial friendly relationship and cooperation between Japan and Pakistan.