Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid deep respect to the Japanese for their vocal support in the Great War of Liberation and hoped that the new generation would carry forward the ‘enduring friendship’ and ‘enviable partnership’ between the two countries in the years to come.
He also said, ‘I am confident that the people of Japan will always stand by us in our need along with the government as in the past. Our long-standing friendship and enviable partnership over the past fifty years will be carried forward by our new generation in the years to come.’
He said this at the ‘Friends of Liberation War Honor’ ceremony today at the Akasaka Palace Guest House in Tokyo.
“I thank you all for joining us on this great occasion where we are not only honoring our friends, but also celebrating the bond of friendship with Japan,” he said.
The Prime Minister welcomed everyone to the grand function organized to pay tribute to the great people who spoke up and made efforts for the cause of humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.
He said, ‘The Japanese citizens who were among them are also with us today. This is an auspicious occasion for Bangladesh and its people.’
The Prime Minister said that the people of Japan stood by the suffering humanity of Bangladesh. There are eight honorees in Bangladesh’s list who have been honored with the ‘Friend of Liberation War Honor’ on 27 March 2012 and 1 October 2013.
He said, ‘This evening we have come to Tokyo to honor four more great friends of Bangladesh who stood by us, provided moral and material support and ensured support. They protested the atrocities and sent humanitarian relief, medical facilities to our helpless people.’
It was a time of suffering that cannot be expressed in words, he said. Then Bangladesh was surrendered by the occupying forces.
He added, ‘At that critical moment, our Japanese friends understood our plight and came forward for humanity.’
He recalled, ‘They (the Japanese) faced great challenges, but did not back down. Their selfless behavior in the face of threats revived the spirit in us too. Most memorable was the donation of Japanese school children who donated their tiffin savings to help us too.’
He said, ‘Bangladesh recalls with deep gratitude the support of the people of Japan which reaffirmed that our aims and objectives were sound and could not be trampled upon.’ He added, ‘You responded to our demands for justice, respect, dignity and human rights.’
He said, “Your vociferous voice added strength to our voice and made it louder to the global community. You rallied in support of our cause and formed a human shield against a ruthless barbarian force. In the Land of the Rising Sun, we see a picture of a nation full of dignity and humanity.”
Sheikh Hasina said it was an honor for her to visit Japan in 1997, 2010, 2014, 2016 and 2019 to carry forward her father’s legacy and strengthen ties.
He said, ‘I am happy today that during my tenure, our time-tested friendship has evolved in depth and breadth from a ‘comprehensive partnership’ to a ‘strategic partnership’.
The Prime Minister said that Bangladesh and Japan follow common ideals and principles of equality, democracy and democratic practices, inclusive development, social justice and rule of law.
He further said that we are following the vision of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who declared the motto of our foreign policy ‘friendship with all, enmity with none’ which is also practiced in Japan.
We recognize Japan’s sustained economic cooperation and support in its socio-economic development efforts, he said. He further said, we have achieved the status of being promoted from LDC to developing country.
The Prime Minister said that the basis of bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Japan is mutual trust, respect, friendship and cooperation. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic visit to Japan in October 1973 laid the foundation of a strong and lasting friendship.
He said, the greatest Bengali of all time, the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who led the liberation war of Bangladesh, 30 lakh martyrs in the liberation war, 2 lakh women who endured inhuman torture, all the martyrs on August 15, the four national leaders, all the brave freedom fighters and all the foreign friends of Bangladesh who We pay our deepest respect to all those who contributed to our cause of liberation.
He said, “We have dedicated ourselves to make Bangabandhu’s dream a true golden Bengal and Bangladesh a land of opportunity. We are confident that Japan will stand by us as it has in the past.”
At that time, Prime Minister’s younger sister Sheikh Rehana was present on the stage and Lt. Col. (retd.) Kazi Sajjad Ali moderated.
Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen read the testimonial in honor of the four Japanese. They are Japan Red Cross Society President Emeritus Tadateru Kono, Professor Gallop Pema, political leader Hideo Takano (posthumous) and photojournalist Taizo Ichinose (posthumous).
Prof. Gallup expressed his sentiments on behalf of the honorees at the ceremony.
The Prime Minister said that he felt very relieved because he and his younger sister Sheikh Rehana were able to honor their Japanese friends for their contribution in the liberation war.
He said, during the liberation war in 1971, they helped the needs of Bangladesh.
He also said, ‘It is a great thing that we do not forget our friends.’