Strengthening an Enduring Friendship: Contextualising Japan-Bangladesh Defence Cooperation

Tanvir Habib

Lecturer, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka.


Historical amicability, development partnership and mutual trust have shaped Japan-Bangladesh relations. While previous engagements reflected donor and recipient relationships, transformation into more economic cooperation has been observed in recent years. The trajectory of the economic relationship remains strong, and all indications point to them remaining so. However, cooperation related to defence remains non-existent. Although Japan’s previous ‘peace-state’ orientation might answer the historical context, the reformulation of Japan’s defence export policy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raises the question of the efficacy of non-engagement at present. The paper aims at ascertaining the contexts where cooperation is viable and mutually beneficial. The paper argues that Bangladesh’s Abe reformulation and the concurrent defence modernisation drive offer both countries a natural alignment choice. The paper concludes that capitalising on this opportunity, a natural progression through the establishment of the Joint Security and Defence Dialogue (JSDD) Forum, would allow both countries to engage each other under the condition of organisational stability and continuance.

Keywords Japan-Bangladesh relations . Defence Cooperation . ‘Peace-State’ . Japanese Defence Export Policy . Pivot to Asia . Forces Goal 2030 .