The Japan-Bangladesh Society (JBS) is an organisation of leading Japanese who are closely associated with Bangladesh. Formed in 2014, this relatively new organisation is already making significant contribution in cementing further the friendly ties between Japan and Bangladesh and is also serving as a window to allow Japanese people to know about the country better. Former Japanese ambassadors who served in Bangladesh, leading Japanese academics involved in research about various aspects of Bangladesh, leading business houses in Japan and business community leaders with commercial interest in the country, as well as NGO representatives, media related people and students who are studying Bangla or subjects related to Bangladesh are members of this group. The society is already enjoying high reputation in Japanese community.
JBS periodically organises lectures by learned personalities who talk about different aspects of Bangladesh. The lecture series is working as an important vehicle to allow interested Japanese to know more about the country. The recent economic advancement of Bangladesh is creating new interest among the Japanese and taking that opportunity, JBS is disseminating information about Bangladesh through its e-mail magazine, as well as through the lecture series. Ambassador Masato Watanabe, who was ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh during 2014-2016 period, is currently serving as President of JBS.
In connection with the observance of 50th anniversary of independence of Bangladesh, as well as marking half a century of the historic speech that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered on March 7, 1971, JBS invited academic and journalist Monzurul Huq to deliver a speech on Bangabandhu. It was 35th lecture of the JBS lecture series and was held online on Sunday. Huq is also serving as an adviser of JBS. Bangladesh Embassy in Japan joined this initiative as a co-host of the event.
Presided over by ambassador Watanabe, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Bangladesh Ambassador to Japan, delivered his welcome speech. In his inaugural speech, ambassador Watanabe thanked Ambassador Shahabuddin for joining hands with JBS and hoped this collaboration would continue in coming days paving the way for Japanese to know better the friendly country that Japan is assessing highly these days.
Ambassador Shahabuddin Ahmed lauded the effort of JBS for making meaningful contribution to cement further the strong bondage between the two countries and hoped the lecture would bring light on various aspects of the life of Bangabandhu that Japanese are usually not familiar with.
In his hour-long lecture, Monzurul Huq focused on the life of Bangabandhu at different stages of his political career and also described the legacy that the founding father of Bangladesh has left for the posterity. Bangabandhu’s life-long struggle for the freedom of his people is something that many in Japan are not aware of, as they tend to look at the later stage of his life when Bangabandhu cemented the relationship between the two countries after visiting Japan in 1973. Huq in his lecture had taken the audience back to Bangabandhu’s early life in Kolkata and from there the audience travelled with him to then East Pakistan where Bangabandhu was repeatedly imprisoned for his involvement in politics that the administration of the day termed as subversive. Despite such obstacles, Bangabandhu could overcome all the odds and score a massive election victory that brought the party he led close to power in then Pakistan, only to be disrupted by the civil and military alliance leadership of Pakistan that never wanted to see East Pakistanis controlling the central government. Bangabandhu delivered the most important speech of his life against such a backdrop.
Being a first-hand witness of Bangabandhu’s deliverance of the historic speech fifty years ago, Huq in his speech also elaborated the prevailing mood of the people gathered at Ramna Racecourse; as well as the dilemma faced by Bangabandhu since he was under tremendous pressure from the youth and student leaders of his party to declare independence right from the stage. The military administration of Pakistan, on the other hand, was watchful of his every move and hinted earlier that the government would not hesitate to take strong counter-measures, should there be any indication of open secession coming from Bangabandhu. Japanese audience listened with utmost interest those hitherto unknown stories of the deceased leader of Bangladesh.
Huq also touched upon the legacy of Bangabandhu, particularly his secular policy and the deep love that he felt for his people. Also mentioned were experiences of some leading Japanese who met Bangabandhu back in 1972. Two such personalities were Nagisa Oshima, the internationally renowned Japanese film director and Fumio Matsuo, a Japanese journalist who was Bangkok Bureau Chief of Kyodo News at the time. The comments they made fifty years ago after meeting Bangabandhu were full of pleasant astonishment. Huq concluded his speech with the description of his chance meeting with Bangabandhu, that gave a personal touch to this well-presented speech that had been appreciated by many of the participants.
Source: United News of Bangladesh