PESHAWAR: On Thursday, Japanese Defence Minister Kono had a video teleconference with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of Islamic Republic of Pakistan General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

During the video teleconference, the two parties exchanged views on issues such as the roles to be played by the defence authorities given the global spread of COVID-19, says a press release.

Minister Kono explained the Japan Self-Defence Forces’ activities on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, activities to take measures at the airport and to prevent community spread infection, infection-preventative measures undertaken in their operation which resulted in having no deployed member infected with the virus, and analysis by the SDF Central Hospital by using a presentation document.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa also explained the recent activities and measures taken in Pakistan.

Furthermore, the two parties exchanged views on defence cooperation between Japan and Pakistan. And Minister Kono pointed out the importance of both countries’ maintaining seamless defence posture and continued and strengthened bilateral defence cooperation to uphold and reinforce the Free and Open Indo-Pacific taking into consideration the implication of COVID-19.

The two parties agreed on the following three points bearing in mind the circumstances arisen by the spread of COVID-19:

sharing information, knowledge and lessons learned about the measures taken by the defence authorities towards overcoming COVID-19 at the earliest stage; necessity of sharing threat recognition based on the current circumstances and potential effects of the spread of COVID-19 on defence policy of each country; and promoting vigorously defence cooperation and exchanges while maintaining communication between the defence authorities.

Japan provides HRD scholarships for Pakistan

The Government of Japan also announced grant aid worth around 318 million Japanese Yen for the Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) program in Pakistan.

Matsuda Kuninori the Ambassador of Japan in Pakistan, and Noor Ahmed, Secretary of Ministry of Economic Affairs, signed an Exchange of Notes (E/N) on this program. A Grant Agreement (G/A) for the aforementioned program was also signed between Rahman Shah, Deputy Secretary of Ministry of Economic Affairs and Shigeki Furuta, Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Pakistan Office.

JDS is designed to support social and economic development of the country by providing government officials an opportunity to obtain Master’s or Doctoral degree in Japan in order to strengthen the administrative capacity of officials. The participants of JDS program who are involved in formulation and implementation of policies are expected to learn in partner universities in Japan and acquire knowledge of their specialties as well as the know-hows of how Japan became a country as it is today.

As JDS in Pakistan was started from 2018 and has four batches in consecutive four years, Pakistan is experiencing the third batch of the program this year. For the third batch, the maximum number of the slots for JDS participants in Pakistan are 18 seats for Master’s degree and two seats for Doctoral degree.