To the text of this page.

Last Update : Monday, Dec 21, 2015

JapanGov Weekly

[Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan] [Saturday, Dec 12, 2015]

Japan and India Vision 2025 Special Strategic and Global Partnership

1 H.E. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, is paying an official visit to India at the invitation of H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India from 11 to 13 December.

2 Expressing satisfaction at the direction of bilateral engagement, the two Prime Ministers resolved to transform the Japan-India Special Strategic and Global Partnership, a key relationship with the largest potential for growth, into a deep, broad-based and action-oriented partnership, which reflects a broad convergence of their long-term political, economic and strategic goals.

Vision for a Deep, Broad-based and Action-oriented Partnership

3 The peoples of Japan and India are guided by common cultural traditions including the heritage of Buddhism, and share commitment to the ideals of democracy, tolerance, pluralism and open society. Japan and India, two of the largest and oldest democracies in Asia having a high degree of congruence of political, economic and strategic interests, view each other as partners that have responsibility for and are capable of responding to global and regional challenges.

4 The two Prime Ministers reiterated their unwavering commitment to realise a peaceful, open, equitable, stable and rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. Japan and India uphold the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity; peaceful settlement of disputes; democracy, human rights and the rule of law; open global trade regime; and freedom of navigation and overflight. They pledged to work for peace, security and development of the Indo-Pacific region toward 2025 underpinned by these principles.

5 The two Prime Ministers underlined the need for closer coordination and effective communication, bilaterally and with partners, to address existing and emerging challenges in spheres of security, stability and sustainable development. They underlined their determination to expand cooperation with other partners, to enhance connectivity in the Indo- Pacific region. Japan and India will work to strengthen regional economic and security forums and coordinate their actions to tackle global challenges including the reform of the United Nations, climate change as well as terrorism.

6 The two Prime Ministers view that imperatives of a stronger bilateral strategic partnership require deep and broad-based cooperation and
concrete actions in defence, security, economic and cultural fields. Our future-oriented partnership raises our collaboration to a new level in areas of infrastructure, manufacturing and high technology, including advanced transportation systems, civil nuclear energy, solar power generation, space, biotechnology, rare earths and advanced materials.

7 Recognising the importance of people to people exchanges and cultural ties, the two Prime Ministers resolved to boost opportunities for study, tourism, youth exchanges and educational collaboration to deepen broad-based and diversified engagement between the two peoples.

8 With the view to realise the objectives of Japan and India Vision 2025, the two leaders decided to develop a comprehensive and concrete medium and long-term action plan.

9 The two Prime Ministers welcomed the conclusion of the Agreement concerning the Transfer of the Defence Equipment and Technology and the Agreement concerning Security Measures for the Protection of Classified Military Information, which further strengthens the foundation of deep strategic ties. Taking note of the Agreements, they reaffirmed their commitment to continue discussions to deepen the bilateral defence relationship including through two-way collaboration and technology cooperation, co-development and co-production. The two Prime Ministers expressed their intention to explore potential future projects on defence equipment and technology cooperation such as US-2 amphibian aircraft.

10 The two Prime Ministers welcomed Japan's participation in the India-US Malabar Exercises on a regular basis, as it would help create stronger capabilities to deal with maritime challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, including through enhanced disaster response and mitigation capacity. They reaffirmed their desire to further develop dialogue and exchanges between the two countries in the security and defence fields, including through the full utilisation of '2+2 Dialogue', Defence Policy Dialogue, Military-to-Military Talks and Coast Guard to Coast Guard cooperation. The two Prime Ministers appreciated the decision to begin Air Force-to- Air Force staff Talks.

11 Highlighting the need to leverage their excellent bilateral relations to promote trilateral dialogues and cooperation with major partners in the region, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the holding of the Japan- India-U.S. Trilateral dialogue among the Foreign Ministers of the three countries in New York in September 2015. They noted with satisfaction the efforts of the three countries to seek closer cooperation in such areas as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, regional connectivity as well as maritime security. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction on the inaugural Japan-India-Australia Trilateral dialogue. They were of the view that these dialogue mechanisms could contribute
to regional efforts to evolve an open, inclusive, stable and transparent economic, political and security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region.

12 Seeking the synergy between India's ''Act East'' policy and Japan's ''Partnership for Quality Infrastructure'', the two Prime Ministers decided to develop and strengthen reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructures that augment connectivity within India and between India and other countries in the region. The two Prime Ministers pledged to advance industrial networks and regional value chains with open, fair and transparent business environment in the region. They recognised the importance of enhancing their cooperation and coordination bilaterally and with other stakeholders to realise this strategic initiative.

13 The two Prime Ministers welcomed the agreement reached between the two Governments on the Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of India for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, and confirmed that this Agreement will be signed after the technical details are finalised, including those related to the necessary internal procedures.

Investing in the Future

14 The two Prime Ministers noted that India's railways modernisation and expansion plans open up commercial opportunities for Japanese companies in high speed rail, station re-development and rolling stock manufacturing. They welcomed the signing of memoranda on technological cooperation, and R&D collaboration in the railways sector.

15 The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation on introduction of Japan's High Speed Railways (HSR) technologies (the Shinkansen system) to Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. Prime Minister Modi appreciated Japan's consideration of providing highly concessional yen loan for the HSR on Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. Both sides will explore further strengthening of their partnership in high speed railways, which is a high technology area having potential to transform India's transportation sector.

16 The two Prime Ministers stressed the need for further actions for investing in the future. Prime Minister Abe commended Prime Minister Modi's strong initiatives such as ''Make in India,'' ''Digital India,'' ''Skill India,'' ''Clean India'' and ''Smart City''. Prime Minister Abe also expressed his intention to support India's efforts by sharing its advanced skills and technologies and through active mobilisation of Japanese public and private sector involvement, including Official Development Assistance (ODA).

17 The two Prime Ministers welcomed the steady progress to realise 3.5 trillion yen of public and private financing to India in five years under
the last annual summit meeting.

18 They also welcomed the progress in the flagship projects such as the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), and reaffirmed the determination to expedite the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) projects. The two Prime Ministers further concurred to take the Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) project to the next stage of concrete implementation including by utilising ODA loan schemes and other facility measures. Indian side expressed a hope to attract US $ 5.5 billion of investment and other support.

19 In this context, Prime Minister Modi welcomed the ''Japan-India Make- in-India Special Finance Facility'' up to 1.5 trillion Yen by Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), which aims to promote direct investment of Japanese companies and trade from Japan to India, to support their business activities with counterparts in India, including development of necessary infrastructure, and to help materialise Make-in-India policy of the Government of India. Prime Minister Abe expressed his expectation on further enhancement of reform measures including in the financial sector. The two Prime Ministers decided to deepen mutual cooperation regarding the Make-in-India policy.

20 The two Prime Ministers recognised the invaluable role played by Japan's ODA in broadening, deepening and strengthening bilateral relations. Appreciating that India is one of the largest recipients of Japan's ODA, Prime Minister Modi thanked the people of Japan for their contribution to the building of social and physical infrastructure in India that is key to the country's development and modernisation. The two sides expressed their expectation that the total commitment of Japanese ODA yen loan to India in FY 2015 may reach around 400 billion yen, the highest ever provided to India, and concurred to accelerate their respective efforts with a view to achieving this goal.
Prime Minister Modi welcomed the Japanese ODA loans of about100 billion yen for the metro projects both in Chennai and Ahmedabad.
Prime Minister Abe expressed Japan's intention to provide ODA loans for the improvement of road network connectivity in northeastern states of India, the peripheral ring road surrounding Bengaluru, and the horticulture irrigation in Jharkhand.
Prime Minister Modi welcomed ongoing surveys regarding Mumbai Trans Harbour Link and the modernisation of ship recycling yards in Gujarat, and an expected survey for Tuticorin Outer Harbour.
The two Prime Ministers also confirmed the importance of securing appropriate implementation of ODA projects.

21 Prime Minister Modi briefed Prime Minister Abe on his agenda of reforms to make India the investment destination with the most business- friendly environment, for which Prime Minister Abe expressed his appreciation. Prime Minister Modi reaffirmed his determination to improve the business environment in India.

22 The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the intention to develop ''Japan Industrial Townships (JITs),'' with investment incentive for companies that would not be lower than under the prevailing policy framework such as Special Economic Zone (SEZ), and National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ). Moreover, both sides will work toward evolving special packages for attracting Japanese investment in the Japanese Industrial Townships in India. The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed to further deepen bilateral economic and financial cooperation.

23 The two Prime Ministers positively appraised the work of ''Japan Plus'' and expressed strong hope that investment-related assistance, guidance and support extended by Japan Plus will become even more effective and efficient through enhancing coordination with stakeholders. Prime Minister Abe appreciated creation of ''Core Group'' chaired by Cabinet Secretary to coordinate and closely monitor the process to ensure that investments from Japan as envisaged in Japan-India Investment Promotion Partnership are facilitated.

24 The two Prime Ministers stressed the importance of expansion in the two-way investment between Japan and India. The Japanese side expressed the intention of establishing a new mechanism, ''Japan-India IoT Investment Initiative,'' to promote investment in Internet of Things (IoT) related area from India to Japan.

25 The two Prime Ministers recognised the importance of close collaboration in the electricity and energy sector through such measures as use of high-efficiency and environmentally friendly coal-fired power generation technology, and Clean Coal Technology (CCT) including Integrated Gasification Fuel Cell (IGFC) once developed, and renewable energy and promotion of energy efficiency. Prime Minister Abe lauded India's effort to enhance contribution of renewables to its overall energy mix.

26 Japan and India, as two countries seeking to transform into knowledge- based societies, expressed satisfaction to the continuous strengthening of their institutionalised Science and Technology cooperation, of which
2015 marks the 30th anniversary year. They shared their intention to raise the level of their ambition through the establishment of joint
research laboratories; enhanced exchanges between young scientists and those under ''Japan-Asia Youth Exchange Program in Science''; the establishment of joint research centres in India in the field of ICT; stem researchers.

27 The Indian side appreciated Japan's support to Skill India Initiative through training at Industrial Training Institutions (ITIs), skills development for managers, curriculum development and the Skills Evaluation System Promotion Program. Both countries will further advance their cooperation by providing Indian trainees with opportunities to acquire industrial skills in Japan including under the Technical Intern Training Program.

28 Acknowledging the importance of cooperation in the education sector, they welcomed the institutionalised exchange of doctoral and post- doctoral research fellows, and encouraged movement of professors and faculty between Japan and India. The two Prime Ministers invited their universities and academic institutions to further expand cooperation. Prime Minister Abe expressed that in the next five years, 10,000 young Indian talents will be visiting Japan under such frameworks as students exchange, IT training and short term exchanges, and hoped that it will provide solid bonds for our future relations.

29 Recognising the importance of facilitating exchanges between people of the two countries, both leaders stressed the importance of further simplifying their visa procedures for nationals of each other.

30 The two leaders welcomed the priorities for action in the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and noted the importance of measures to mitigate the risk of disaster arising from earthquake, cyclone and tsunami, including flood control and early warning systems. They recognized the need to advance bilateral cooperation and collaboration in disaster risk reduction. Prime Minister Modi appreciated Japan's assistance to land slide prevention in the area of highway development.

31 The two Prime Ministers appreciated the growing cooperation in the field of women empowerment and healthcare. Prime Minister Abe briefed Prime Minister Modi on his efforts to create a ''society where all women shine,'' including by hosting ''WAW!''. Prime Minister Modi expressed that the target regarding quantitative share of generic medicines in Japan would be an excellent opportunity for collaboration between Japanese and Indian pharmaceutical companies.

32 The two Prime Ministers welcomed enhanced partnership between Indian States and cities with Japanese prefectures and cities as these help bilateral relations grow deeper roots. They expressed satisfaction at the strengthened ties between the City of Kyoto and Varanasi, two ancient and historic cities integral to their respective cultural heritage.
Prime Minister Modi expressed his expectation that the two sides will explore to develop a convention centre in Varanasi.

33 Sharing the view that the future of Asia needs to build on the positive influence of traditions of non-violence and democracy in Asia, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the Samvad conference held in India in September and looked forward to Japan hosting the next conference in January 2016.

Vision for Peace and Stability

34 Recognising that peace, stability and development in the Indo-Pacific region is indispensable to their national security and prosperity, they reaffirmed that close cooperation between Japan and India is the key to achieving peace and stability in the region. They welcomed the progress in strengthening the East Asia Summit to enhance dialogue on political and security issues, and reaffirmed their commitment to continue to work with all partners, especially with ASEAN which is at the core of EAS, to make EAS the premier leaders-led forum to discuss regional peace and security agenda.

35 Expressing their commitment to the principles of sovereign equality of all states as well as respect for their territorial integrity, they affirmed closer cooperation in safeguarding the global commons in maritime, space and cyber domains. They underscored the importance of international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and peaceful resolution of disputes without use or threat of use of force; freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters.

36 In view of critical importance of the sea lanes of communications in the South China Sea for regional energy security and trade and commerce which underpins continued peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific, the two Prime Ministers noting the developments in the South China Sea called upon all States to avoid unilateral actions that could lead to tensions in the region. They were of the view that full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and early conclusion of the negotiations to establish a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea by consensus will contribute to peace and stability of the region. They decided to hold regular close consultations on the issues related to maritime safety and security of sea lanes of communication.

37 Sharing their concerns about the growing threat and universal reach of extremism, the two Prime Ministers reiterated their strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations with 'zero tolerance' and reaffirmed their deep concern over the continued threat posed by terrorists and terrorist groups. They called upon all countries to implement the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 and other relevant resolutions designating terrorist entities. They also called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, in disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels, and stopping cross-border movement of terrorists. They underlined the need for all countries to effectively deal with trans-national terrorism emanating from their territory. They emphasised that the evolving character of terrorism called for stronger international partnership in combating terrorism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence. They affirmed the importance of bringing the perpetrators of terrorist attacks including those of November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice.

38 The two Prime Ministers expressed concern over North Korea's continued development of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, including its uranium enrichment activities. They urged North Korea to fully comply with its international obligations, including under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and to take actions towards the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. They also urged North Korea to address at the earliest the abductions issue.

39 Prime Minister Abe briefed Prime Minister Modi on Japan's efforts, including the ''Proactive Contribution to Peace'' based on the principle of international cooperation and the ''Legislation for Peace and Security,'' to contribute even more to peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the international community. Prime Minister Modi welcomed and supported Japan's efforts and desire to enhance its contribution to global peace, stability and prosperity.

40 The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their intention to work together for the early realisation of U.N. reforms, particularly the Security Council reform, to better reflect the realities of the international community in the 21st century. They welcomed the recent developments in the Inter- Governmental Negotiation (IGN) process, towards the launch of text- based negotiations, and reaffirmed their determination to redouble their efforts towards achieving concrete outcomes during the 70th Session of the U.N. General Assembly. The two Prime Ministers reiterated their support for each other's candidature, based on the firmly shared recognition that Japan and India are legitimate candidates for permanent membership in an expanded Security Council.

41 Recognising India as the largest democracy and a fast growing large economy in the Asia-Pacific region, the Japanese side conveyed its support to India's membership of the APEC as a positive contribution to the economic integration in the region.

42 The two Prime Ministers, on the occasion of the 70th year since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reaffirmed their shared commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. They called for an immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) on the basis of Shannon Mandate. In this context, Prime Minister Abe stressed the importance of early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which should lead to nuclear disarmament. They also supported the strengthening of international cooperation to address the challenges of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.

43 The two Prime Ministers recognised the importance of effective national export control systems. Japan welcomed India's intensified engagement with export control regimes . The two Prime Ministers affirmed their commitment to work together for India to become a full member in the four international export control regimes: Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group, with the aim of strengthening the international non- proliferation efforts.


44 H.E. Mr Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan thanked the Government and the people of India for their warm hospitality and extended a cordial invitation to H.E. Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India to visit Japan at a mutually convenient time for the next annual summit meeting. Prime Minister Modi accepted the invitation with appreciation. The dates of the visit will be decided through diplomatic channels.

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015]

Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at International Conference on Universal Health Coverage in the New Development Era: Toward Building Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems

[Provisional Translation]

Excellencies, Distinguished guest, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to begin by thanking you sincerely for coming to today’s International Conference entitled “Universal Health Coverage in the New Development Era: Toward Building Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems”.

Japan has long contributed to global health challenges by mobilizing expertise, taking actions and producing tangible results. The reason why Japan prioritizes health comes from our conviction that it is among the most important elements in the concept of human security, which strives for the protection and empowerment of all individuals, and the fulfillment of their potential.

One of the overarching goals of my tenure as Prime Minister has been to make a “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principles of international cooperation. This means that contributing to world peace and prosperity is a fundamental principle and aim of Japan’s foreign policy. To this end, I believe that playing a major role in the effort to meet global challenges including global health, based on the concept of human security, is nothing less than the implementation of our ‘Proactive Contribution to Peace’.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted at the United Nations this year. The 2030 Agenda includes numerous health related targets to be achieved including the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC)which Japan has long been promotingas well as a wide range of countermeasures against diseases including infectious diseases. Next year, Japan will be the first country to assume the G7 Presidency after the adoption of the new Agenda and will also serve as one of the co-organizers of the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), which is to be held for the first time in Africa.

I intend to take up health as a priority agenda at the G7 Ise Shima summit, and I would like to lead the discussion on the health challenges that the world faces in close cooperation with the other G7 countries. With this mind, I published an article “Japan’s vision for a peaceful and healthier world” in the Lancet last week outlining Japan’s position and efforts on Global Health.

What are the health challenges that the world is currently facing? As I see it, there are two key areas:

First, we need to strengthen the response to public health emergencies. During the recent Ebola outbreak, we lost many lives due in part to slow detection and reporting of the emergence of the disease in each country and to an inadequate response by the international community. In this globalized world, we need to proactively implement global measures that can respond swiftly and effectively to the emergence of an epidemic of infectious disease or other public health emergency. For example, the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) proposed by World Bank and the Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE) established by WHO are important tools to mobilize necessary financial resources when a public health emergency occurs. Japan also supports the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to strengthen each country’s capacities to fight against infectious diseases.

Second, we need to provide basic health services to all individuals throughout the entirely of their life course in order to cover various challenges ranging from maternal and new born health to malnutrition, non-communicable diseases and ageing. I believe that Universal Health Coverage, which is the provision of basic health services to every individual at an affordable cost, is necessary to the stable development of society. At the same time, UHC will also strengthen national capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to epidemic and endemic infectious diseases, thereby contributing to better preparedness against public health emergencies.

In order to address these two issues simultaneously, I believe that health systems need to be resilient, sustainable, and inclusive. To develop such health systems in accordance with the unique circumstances of each respective country, strong political will, clear plans, and the mobilization of adequate financial and human resources on a global scale including among developing countries are indispensable. It is also important that relevant international organizations and donors share a common vision and strengthen their collaboration.

For its part, Japan will continue the discussion on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) taken up by the current G7 president, Germany. The “one health approach,” which addresses both human and animal health together, is necessary to respond to the rise of AMR. Furthermore, it is also important to encourage research and development of drugs, including drugs for the treatment of AMR and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) through public-private partnership.

Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I believe that this conference has been be a concrete step forward on global health issues including the strengthening of health systems towards the G7 summit next year. I look forward to frank and fruitful discussions in the coming year.

Thank you for your kind attention.

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Friday, Dec 18, 2015]

Signing of Grant Agreement with the Arab Republic of Egypt: Enhancing pediatric health care services through the improvement of medical facilities and equipment

On Dec. 14, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a Grant Agreement (G/A) with the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt to provide grant aid of up to 1.56 billion yen for assistance for the Project for Construction of Outpatient Facility at Cairo University Specialized Pediatric Hospital.

This project will construct an outpatient care facility for internal medicine services at Cairo University Specialized Pediatric Hospital and provide equipment for the facility. This will improve the outpatient medical care services, strengthen the educational functions of Cairo University Specialized Pediatric Hospital, and improve the level of pediatric medical care services in Egypt.

Cairo University Specialized Pediatric Hospital was established in 1982 with grant aid from Japan as a public medical care and educational institution for pediatrics to improve the conditions of maternal and pediatric health care in Egypt. Since then, the hospital has provided advanced medical care services for more than three decades at low cost to many residents of Cairo and other areas, including the poor, and the hospital is called the “Japanese hospital” by Cairo locals. However, with the rapid increase in population in recent years, public medical care institutions face the pressing issue of inadequate medical equipment, and a need for more doctors and nurses, particularly in urban areas. In addition, the facilities at Cairo University Specialized Pediatric Hospital have also been gradually deteriorating, and the lack of space has become a serious problem.

This project will solve the outpatient crowding at the facility and increase the number of medical examinations that can be performed, which is expected to improve the outpatient medical care services at the hospital. Since the inauguration of the new administration in 2014, Egypt has been working to achieve fiscal adjustment and expand the social safety net to stabilize the economy and the society. By expanding the medical care services to the poor by strengthening a public health care institution, this project will provide support for that initiative.

In addition to this project, JICA is providing technical cooperation with the object of improving the quality of health care services, specifically providing comprehensive support to improve the state of maternal and pediatric health care in Egypt.

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Monday, Dec 14, 2015]

Signing of Loan Agreement with Bangladesh: The largest scale of Japanese ODA assistance to date to further economic growth and overcome social vulnerabilities

On December 13, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed Japanese ODA loan agreements with the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in the capital of Dhaka to provide up to 133.265 billion yen for six projects.

Having approximately 160 million people, the eighth largest population in the world, Bangladesh has maintained an annual economic growth averaging six percent over the past 10 years through initiatives such as the development of the garment and textile industries. With a large labor force and a potentially large-scale market, Bangladesh has drawn attention in recent years from foreign countries, including Japan, as a newly emerging nation that could serve as a promising production base or investment location. However, the infrastructure required to provide a stable power supply and build road networks has not kept pace with the rapid economic growth and urbanization. Therefore, accelerating the building of infrastructure and the improvement of the investment environment are priorities for encouraging further economic growth. Other important challenges include economic disparities, which are expanding between urban and rural areas due to unequal access to social and government services, and the increasing damage caused by disasters in urban areas where buildings are vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes. The six projects covered by these agreements will provide assistance to address these issues toward further economic growth and to overcome social vulnerabilities in Bangladesh.

The characteristics of the six projects are as follows.

(1) Encouraging industrial diversification and promoting economic growth by improving investment climate in Bangladesh

In recent years, Bangladesh has achieved more than 6 percent of annual economic growth for more than 10 years, and a main driver of the growth is the garment industry, which consists of 80 percent of the country’s exports. However, against a backdrop of fierce global competition and a lack of competitiveness in the industrial sectors, it will be more and more difficult for Bangladesh to achieve economic growth in a sustainable manner.

To overcome such obstacles, it is important for Bangladesh to promote foreign direct investment. This would help Bangladesh introduce new technology from overseas, nurture high value-added export-oriented enterprises and diversify its industries. However, issues that impede business operations in Bangladesh, such as limited access to financing, inadequate basic infrastructure, and complicated bureaucratic procedures, show that there is room for improvements in the investment climate considering the potential of the country.

To respond to this situation, the Foreign Direct Investment Promotion Project will help Bangladesh improve investment climate to promote foreign direct investment through such programs as two-step loans (refinancing scheme), project sector loans for offsite infrastructure development and equity-back finance for Economic Zone Development. Through this project, Bangladesh will facilitate the development of large-scale infrastructure including economic zones (EZs), under the framework of public private partnership, while trying to eliminate and improve cumbersome procedures, policies, or practices related to business environment of Bangladesh.

(2) A stable supply of power to the Dhaka Metropolitan Area – strengthening the Dhaka-Chittagong main power grid

The electrification rate in Bangladesh overall is low, a mere 62 percent (2013), and while the potential power demand is rising with the high growth of recent years, the power supply capacity remains at only about 80 percent, leading to regular planned power outages. The power demand is expected to increase at an annual rate of 8.5 percent, and as the power supply cannot meet that rise with only domestic natural gas, which is used for about 70 percent of the power currently used for power production, there is a need to diversify the power production fuels in use to strengthen the power supply capacity. To increase the amount of coal available for power generation and address this situation, the Government of Bangladesh is carrying out the Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Project (I) (L/A signed in fiscal year 2014), under which a deep-sea harbor for coal ships is being constructed in Chittagong Division and a power plant is planned for construction that will generate power with that imported coal. The Dhaka-Chittagong Main Power Grid Strengthening Project that is in this agreement will lay high-voltage main power lines and construct transformer facilities so that power generated at the newly constructed power plant can be transmitted to Dhaka, providing a stable supply of power to the Dhaka Metropolitan Area which accounts for about half of the country’s power demand, and contributing to economic development in Bangladesh.

(3) Bridge replacement and construction in Western Bangladesh – making the regional transportation network safer and more efficient

With robust economic development in recent years, the volume of cargo handled in Bangladesh has increased approximately eight times over the past three decades and the number of passengers traveling has increased about 6.5 times, and growth is expected to continue at a rate of approximately six percent going forward. Trucks and other road transportation account for approximately 80 percent of the transportation used domestically, and such ground transportation is vital for other countries in the region as well. About 40 percent of the some 3,800 bridges on roadways around the country have deteriorated, lack proper maintenance, or have had an initial failure, and those structural defects and damage are serious enough to make the bridges impassable. Damaged bridges that cannot be crossed during the rainy season and bridges that are dangerous for large and heavy transportation vehicles are impediments to the transportation of goods. The Western Bangladesh Bridge Improvement Project will replace and construct around 60 bridges mainly in Western Bangladesh, improving the safety when crossing rivers and the efficiency of the road network, thereby promoting socioeconomic development in the area.

(4) Supporting health service improvement from the community level to higher-level medical facilities – improving maternal and child health, and strengthening early diagnosis system of lifestyle diseases

In the area of maternal and child health in Bangladesh, the maternal mortality rate and the under-five mortality rate have been steadily dropping, as a result of the decades of efforts that have been implemented. However, the proportion of deliveries attended by skilled birth attendants and antenatal care coverage remain low, and therefore the health system must be strengthened along with further improvements in health services. There is a chronically inadequate number of human resources at the core of the health system; therefore, improvement in the quality and number of nurses, in particular, is a priority. Furthermore, there are not enough healthcare services at public hospitals for the early diagnosis and treatment of lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, areas in which there has been a rising need in recent years for examinations. To increase access to health services by the poor and the socially vulnerable, in particular, improvement in public health services toward universal health coverage* is a priority. The Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) and Health System Improvement Project will improve the health status of the people of Bangladesh through improving service provision at all levels of health facilities and supporting development of human resources for health.

(5) Strengthening safety in public and private urban buildings – building disaster-resilient cities with the first truly earthquake-proof technologies

Dhaka and Chittagong, the core cities of the government and economy of Bangladesh, are also the two largest cities in the country, accounting for approximately 50 percent of the gross domestic product and approximately 15 percent of the population. Some 500,000 houses are concentrated in these two cities, and about 70 percent of those houses are believed to not comply with Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC). Over the past 150 years, seven earthquakes with a magnitude of at least seven (M.7) have occurred in Bangladesh, and the next time an earthquake occurs on such a scale, it is predicted that 30 percent of the buildings in Dhaka and 80 percent of those in Chittagong will be all or partially destroyed, making those cities among the most vulnerable urban areas to disasters such as earthquakes in the world. A related problem is human-made disasters caused by illegal construction, exemplified by the disaster in 2013 when a tenant building housing a garment factory called Rana Plaza collapsed under its own weight, killing 1,135 people. The Urban Building Safety Project will construct a Fire Service and Civil Defense Headquarters and retrofit fire stations that save lives during earthquakes and other disasters, and provide mid- to long-term low-interest financing through financial institutions with the objective of strengthening the safety of private buildings, thereby encouraging earthquake-resistant private buildings. By improving the safety of public and private buildings in these cities and reducing the risk of disaster, this project will contribute to overcoming social vulnerabilities and to reliable economic development.

(6) Improving public services – toward better rural infrastructure and strengthening administrative capacity

While Bangladesh has achieved rapid economic growth in recent years, approximately 32 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line, and the rate is especially high in rural areas, 35 percent, which is 10 percent higher than urban areas. Local government institutions in rural areas are not being able to deliver effective public services based on regional characteristics and resident demands due to a lack of development budgets and staff capacity, and also due to the lack of a system that effectively reflects and coordinates resident demands. Therefore, to improve the delivery of public services and development project implementation, strengthening local government institutions is a priority in rural areas where the poverty rate is high. The Upazila Governance and Development Project will formulate the development plans of upazila (sub district) and implement development works (rural roads, water supply, education, medical facilities, and the like), better reflecting resident demands. In addition, the project will provide training for capacity development and technical support to public servants, thereby contributing to an improvement in the lives of residents and reinforcing the local government structure of Bangladesh.

* Universal health coverage refers to providing all people with access to appropriate health promotion, preventative care, treatment and functional recovery services at an affordable cost.