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Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh



This chapter portrays the importance and significance of Japanese Studies in Bangladesh. Over the decades, Japan has evolved from a major donor to a key development partner of Bangladesh, making Japanese Studies crucial (area study) for further strengthening the bilateral relationship. Besides, Japan constantly supports Bangladesh in implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through numerous development programs. Since Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, Japan has contributed to its overall development, providing a remarkable amount of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and thus becoming Bangladesh’s most significant donor country. Since 1972, Japan has assisted in socio-economic development through technical support, grants and loans. As a result, Japanese Studies contribute to the policy formulation and are conducive to the socio-economic development of Bangladesh. This chapter also attempts to identify and show the pathways for Bangladesh, resulting in not to be indulged in a ‘debt trap’ but eluding all drawbacks would ensure the transfer of skills and technology to Bangladesh. This chapter adopts the game theory to explain the nation-building process, and Japanese Studies being an area study that can translate the Japanese experience to achieve the SDGs in Bangladesh. Finally, this chapter theorises a new model for the socio-economic development of Bangladesh with policy recommendations for a latent global emblem.
Significance of Japanese Studies to
Achieve Sustainable Development
Goals in Bangladesh
Md Jahangir Alam*
Sumarry: This chapter portrays the importance and significance of Japanese Studies in
Bangladesh. Over the decades, Japan has evolved from a major donor to a key
development partner of Bangladesh, making Japanese Studies crucial (area study) for
further strengthening the bilateral relationship. Besides, Japan constantly supports
Bangladesh in implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through numerous
development programs. Since Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, Japan has contributed
to its overall development, providing a remarkable amount of Official Development
Assistance (ODA) and thus becoming Bangladesh’s most significant donor country. Since
1972, Japan has assisted in socio-economic development through technical support, grants
and loans. As a result, Japanese Studies contribute to the policy formulation and are
conducive to the socio-economic development of Bangladesh. This chapter also attempts
to identify and show the pathways for Bangladesh, resulting in not to be indulged in a ‘debt
trap’ but eluding all drawbacks would ensure the transfer of skills and technology to
Bangladesh. This chapter adopts the game theory to explain the nation-building process,
and Japanese Studies being an area study that can translate the Japanese experience to
achieve the SDGs in Bangladesh. Finally, this chapter theorises a new model for the socio-
economic development of Bangladesh with policy recommendations for a latent global
Keywords: Japanese Studies, Sustainable Development, Sustainability, Bangladesh, Japan.
*Dr Md Jahangir Alam, Associate Professor, Department of Japanese Studies, University of Dhaka,
Bangladesh. E-mail:
© The Author(s) 2022
Alam, M. J. (2022). Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh. In A.
A. Mamun (ed.), Japanese Studies: Evaluation and Way Forward (pp. 121-147). Department of Japanese Studies.
Md Jahangir Alam
6.1 Introduction
In 1971, shortly after Bangladesh attained independence, Japan provided substantial
support to rebuild the war-torn country and built a successful and trusted relationship as a
development partner. Bangladesh strives to graduate from the least-developed country
classification by 2026 and become a developed country by 2041. Japan is one of
Bangladesh’s most important development partners and a critical source of support for
development. Bangladesh and Japan have a broad spectrum of bilateral relations. Hence,
to understand these diplomatic relations between the duo, Japanese Studies is essential
when considering the comprehensive study of social sciences and humanities disciplines
about Japan like its economics, politics, sociology, history, philosophy, international
relations, science and technology, art and culture, language, and literature. The goal of
Japanese Studies is to develop knowledge-based Japan specialists, also known as
Japanologists, who act as knowledge-based catalysts, facilitators, role players, and
ambassadors for the welfare of humanity (Wibawarta, 2010). This study defines the critical
role of a Japanologist in developing relations between Japan and South Asia, particularly
Bangladesh. Japanese Studies attributes to perform updated multidisciplinary knowledge
of Japan, an understanding of Japanese values and ethics, Japan’s worldview,
comprehensive knowledge about the critical dimensions of relevant bilateral and
multilateral issues for high ‘diffusion index’ and ‘expansion value,’ and the potential
impact of development and cooperation. Globally, Japanese Studies assist in developing
‘relation-building capability’ through the multidisciplinary process and the individual
country’s interest in development (Ogawa, n.d.). Japanese Studies with those mentioned
above understand that Japan-Bangladesh relations account for the significant growth of
Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Moreover, the diplomatic relations between the two nations can play a crucial role
in fostering a win-win situation in the development process through trade diversification,
investment, business, exchange of ideas and cultural ties. Relationships between the two
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
countries are never involuntary; they derive from deliberate efforts driven by mutual
development and cooperation needs. It is considered successful and productive only when
this conscious effort is complemented by a comprehensive knowledge of Japanese Studies
for the developmental needs of Bangladesh to achieve SDGs. Further, it is suggested that
networks of Japanese Studies scholars be developed in Bangladesh to expedite the
capacity-building process and enhance Japan-Bangladesh relations (Alam, 2022a).
6.2 Background and Importance of Japanese Studies
As a part of Japanese Studies, Japanese Area Study (⽇本の地域研究, Nihon no Chiiki
Kenkyū) encompasses various area studies and aspects like history, culture, economics,
politics, trade and industry, international relations, and language and linguistics of Japan.
When compared globally, Japanese Studies have a long history of contributing to the field
of development and cooperation (Rafael, 1994). Japanese Studies may be traced back to
the first scholarly journals dedicated to area studies. In 1938, Sophia University published
‘Monumenta Nipponica,’ the earliest notable academic publication in Japanese Studies,
whereas most of the other prominent publications date from the 1970s and afterwards. The
development of online Japanese Studies publications was another key event in the 2000s.
Japanese language education took a significant amount of time to develop. Masaaki Seki
divides Japanese Studies education into three periods: guiding foreign nationals coming to
Japan to learn the Japanese language and culture until the late 19th century, Japanese
Studies education as an imperial instrument until 1945, and Japanese studies education as
part of global interaction after 1945 (Seki, 1997).
Western institutions also offered Japanese Studies education throughout the first
several decades of the 20th century. At the same time, contemporary Japanese Studies
foundations were laid before the Second World War (WWII). However, Japanese Studies
emerged mainly in the United States during and after the war as a multidisciplinary study
(Gerstle & Cummings, 2016). The United States’ interest in learning more about its
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competitors and foreign threats prompted the development of a new area studies program
in the wake of WWII. Departments of Asian Studies have also been launched in universities
around the United Kingdom. The University of Sheffield established its School of East
Asian Studies in 1963. It soon became a pioneer of the ‘dual degree’ model. East Asian
languages are taught alongside social sciences and other courses, a technique that has since
become standard across the United Kingdom (University of Sheffield, n.d.).
Because of the multidisciplinary field encompassing regionalised research in
cultural studies, sociology, international relations and political science, Japanese Studies is
known as ‘geopolitical studies’ (Oba, 1995). Although area studies do not rely on language
as heavily as other fields, the students who are proficient in Japanese can conduct a field
study to better comprehend the geopolitical situation for regional and bilateral relations.
Knowing, examining and interpreting different cultures, whether people of both countries
seek to experience the other country, is an act of area studies adaptation (Szanton, 2004).
It is simply an attempt to explain different groups and cultures’ hypotheses, definitions,
structures and dynamics.
However, it also creates reflective opportunities for foreigners’ perception of their
society and culture to expand, even if it is challenged by diversity (Bates, 1997). The
‘multidisciplinary spectacles’ are necessary because no particular educational method can
apprehend and dispatch a complete comprehension of different communities or cultures
(Alam, 2022c). Hence, as an academic field, Japanese Studies is analysed comprehensively,
including its overall influence on Bangladesh, its likely future outcomes and more. As
shown in Table 6.1, the perspectives of participants, who may be categorised as Japanese,
non-Japanese or, more recently, multicultural and the contexts in which they work, were
assessed to analyse the evolution of Japanese Studies in Bangladesh. Japanese Studies is
divided into two periods: pre-and post-World War II. The pre-war period is the
foundational phase, whereas the post-war period is when universities began to provide
specialised Japanese Studies programs.
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
Table 6.1
Evolution of Japanese Studies
Non-Japanese Academics and Researchers
Japanese Academics and Researchers
Early Imperial (to 1905)
Outside Japan
Foreigners had minimal knowledge of Japan
and acted as amateur specialists.
Travellers roamed worldwide and acted as
representatives of Japanese culture.
Inside Japan
The colonial explorers became almost
Anthropological study elements were offered to
the local audience by Japanologists.
Late Imperial (to 1945)
Outside Japan
Japanese language education in Western
institutions began.
There were a few Japanese language instructors at
Western institutions; widespread language
teaching in Japan’s colonies.
Inside Japan
As the conflict neared, the Western presence
was reduced.
Along the way to war, the academics promoted
nationalist viewpoints.
Post-war (to the 1960s)
Outside Japan
Specialisation in Japanese Studies.
Ban on Japanese commoners from travelling
Inside Japan
Post-occupation area study enthusiasts in
Japan for field study.
In the post-war period, Japan was introspective as
it confronted loss and sought new philosophical
Internationalisation (from the 1970s to the 1980s)
Outside Japan
With increased Japanese Studies publications,
area study enthusiasts viewed Japan as an
ideal nation.
Expat academics taught language along with
humanities and the social sciences.
Inside Japan
Western scholars were working on Japanese
literary works and socio-cultural aspects.
Nihonjinron debate; native analysts of the success
of Japan who had fame outside Japan.
Globalisation (from the 1990s to the 2010s)
Outside Japan
Maintaining academic authority in Japanese
Studies within the neoliberal educational age.
The rise of Japanese scholars pursuing careers
A massive rise in interconnectivity in the era of the Internet; the gradual fading of the ‘Japanese-
Western’ divide.
Inside Japan
As Japan became a popular overseas study
destination, fascination with pop culture
surpassed interest in economic strategies for
Local Japanese scholars acted as global
representatives by releasing their online content;
Japanese Studies received monetary and political
New Horizons (the 2020s onwards)
Outside Japan
Diffusion of power centres to intellectuals in
countries excluding the West, particularly in
Asia; de-westernisation of Japanese Studies.
Internationally mobile intellectuals whose
reputations are becoming entirely unbound by
Japanese Studies is becoming increasingly diverse and global. The role of Japan in battling climate
change, an ageing population, and migration emerges as critical challenges.
Inside Japan
The internationally mobile intellectuals
whose fame and rank are becoming
increasingly unbound by nationality.
Japanese Studies has shifted its focus from local
to global challenges. Relationships with Asia
have been strengthened.
Source: Ogawa & Seaton (2020)
Md Jahangir Alam
6.3 Significance and Rationale of Japanese Studies in Bangladesh
Many development partners have helped Bangladesh with its socio-economic growth since
its independence in 1971. Japan is assisting Bangladesh to improve in all areas, including
the economy, human resources development, technological advancement, disaster
management and sundry others. As a primary development partner, Japanese Studies in
Bangladesh are critical for strengthening bilateral ties and maximising the benefits of a
comprehensive partnership (Harootunian & Sakai, 1999; Sakakibara, 1994). Even though
many Bangladeshis are given opportunities to visit Japan each year for cultural exchange
programs, they can gain a lot from Japanese area studies. Furthermore, Japanese Studies
might strengthen mutual relationships for development in achieving SDGs.
Japanese Studies have typically focused on Japanese language, culture and
developmental issues. So far, the goal of Japanese Studies has been to appropriately
connect with non-Japanese people and provide them with a clear and broad perspective of
Japan. On the other hand, people working in Japanese Studies as researchers and
academicians must think to innovate for further developmental arenas. There are two
fundamental reasons for adopting the paradigm of area studies: philosophical and practical
(Tjandra, 2012). Regarding philosophy, researchers and scholars should take full
advantage of researching issues from diverse geographic viewpoints, shifting from
‘methodological nationalism’ to ‘methodological cosmopolitanism’. Besides the
theoretical rationale, there is a more pragmatic and practical reason. The Department of
Japanese Studies at the University of Dhaka was founded with all these ideals in mind as
Bangladesh’s first and only area studies program. Before going on to specialised fields of
knowledge such as the Japanese economy, trade and business, society, politics, history,
language, art and media, culture, literature, statistics and information technology, students
are taught the principles of social sciences and humanities (Figure 6.1). As a knowledge
hub and a centre of excellence, the Department of Japanese Studies intends to be a catalyst
in this process, expanding the department’s base and boosting diplomatic relations between
Japan and Bangladesh.
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
Figure 6.1
Classification of Japanese Studies in Bangladesh
Source: Created by the author
Japanese Studies is essential to understand the development pattern for much-
needed capabilities such as updated multidisciplinary knowledge of Japan. This knowledge
helps them understand Japanese values and ethics, Japan’s worldview, critical dimensions
of bilateral issues between Bangladesh and Japan, and clarity of mutual trust-respect-
reciprocity principles (Figure 6.2). With the assistance of competent Japanologists,
Bangladesh will understand Japan better, which is required to retain strong relations and
conduct business with relevant stakeholders. Japanese Studies may assist Bangladesh in
achieving economic and regional political success and SDGs by maintaining strong ties
with Japan and encouraging them to pay attention to Bangladesh with the support of
Japanese Studies
Japanese Language,
Literarture, Linguistcs &
Japan-Bangladesh Relationship
Japanese as Area Studies
Traditional Japanese Art and
Japanese Economy and
International Relations
Japanese Sociology and
History of Japan
Japan's Media, Politics and
Contemporrary Japanese
Japanese trade and business
Elementary Area Studies
(Economics, Statistics,
Computaion, etc)
ICT based Japanese Language
Md Jahangir Alam
Figure 6.2
Node Pathways for Japanese Studies
Source: Created by the author
6.3.1 Relevance of Japanese Studies in Bangladesh
Area studies have garnered considerable attention in recent years, and Japanese Studies is
undoubtedly one of the most-researched topics for development. Bangladesh has
significant economic, diplomatic and cultural relations with Japan, making the adoption of
Japanese Studies at the tertiary level crucial for Bangladesh. Many Japanese corporations
and organisations now functioning in Bangladesh require many individuals to act as a
‘bridge’ between the two countries. Japanese Studies programs in Bangladesh, including
the Department of Japanese Studies at the University of Dhaka, might create many well-
versed opportunities in many characteristics. Furthermore, Japan’s population has been
shrinking rapidly, so the country desperately needs a qualified workforce. Bangladeshi
graduates with a sufficient understanding of Japan and the essential abilities can be sent to
Japan. In turn, Japan will undoubtedly be benefited from skilled human resources. It would
also help Bangladesh’s economy by reducing the number of educated unemployed
individuals. In today’s international society, Japan is considered a significant soft power.
Studying Japan to comprehend the country’s philosophy, worldwide impact fully, and other
features is vital. Japan is also one of the few countries with tremendous economic growth
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
and industrialisation. Through the Japanese Studies Program, Japan’s experience and
policies can benefit Bangladesh in addressing the SDGs.
6.4 Theoretical Framework and Implications in Bangladesh
Game theory applies to understanding relationships in social sciences such as economics,
political science, international relations and philosophy. In other words, it is the science of
tactics, or more precisely, it is the study of the individuals who make decisions in contexts
where they are strategically interdependent. Similarly, as both nations are strategically
interconnected and interdependent, a comprehensive study of Japanese Studies is required
to understand every dimension of their bilateral relationship through game theory. In 1940,
John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern introduced this theory. John Nash, a
mathematician, is often credited with offering the first significant expansion of von
Neumann and Morgenstern’s work on game theory (Hayes, 2021) (Figure 6.3). This theory
deals with strategies and conflicts in which an agent’s decision success is contingent on
others’ actions. It originated within economic development to comprehend various
financial behaviours, including companies, markets and consumers. It has also developed
ethical or normative behaviour theories and apprehended rational action. This theory has a
significant influence on a country’s economic development. However, the theory’s
relevance to international relations is undeniable. It is a classic remark that states interact
by attempting to anticipate the responses of other nations to their decisions. The application
of game theory benefits understanding the prospects and addressing the challenges of
Japan-Bangladesh relations.
This study implies the game theory, a framework for understanding bilateral
relations among partners and using game theory, technology, and political economics
modelling assists in furthering the goals of Japanese Studies in Bangladesh. The non-
cooperative notion as an evaluative tool and macroeconomic framework hypothesis about
partners’ local interests and motives offers a distinct view on international relations than
realist theories and other state-centric approaches. Likewise, through Japanese Studies, we
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can learn what makes Bangladesh a state more profound to Japan and, as a result, can assist
the nation in thriving by utilising this bilateral bonding. Since Japan is Bangladesh’s most
important development partner, it is essential to understand their strategic plans and earn
their trust by providing mutual benefits, which cannot be done better in any other way but
through Japanese Studies. Game theory allows one side to understand the other’s response
to their actions. It is critical to have skilled Japanologists who can conceive game theory
to comprehend and assess Japan’s strategic movements towards Bangladesh. This theory
shows Japanese Studies’ relevance to optimising bilateral relations between Japan and
Figure 6.3
Theoretical Framework
Source: Created by the author
The game theory has been deployed in explaining the bilateral relations between
Japan and Bangladesh to develop and test the relationship’s dynamics to allow stakeholders
to select between one or more strategies for development. It is demonstrated within the
framework of game theory while conforming to behavioural, social and moral criteria for
bilateral relations (Kyburz-Graber et al., 2006; Osborne & Rubinstein, 1994; Von
Neumann & Morgenstern, 1953; Corridoni et al., 2014). Implying the theory in terms of
showing the role of Japanese Studies in analysing the strategy for further development of
the bilateral relationship:
Game Theory
Game of Chance
Attributes Development
Strategic Approach
Strengthen Bilateral Relations
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
First, the game theory implies that both participating countries, i.e. Japan and
Bangladesh of this theory will reap the profit or lose the gain depending on one variable’s
choice. In this case, in-depth knowledge of Japanese Strategies will help Bangladesh
emphasise the bilateral relationship between Japan and Bangladesh and allow both
countries to help each other by distinguishing between modified and unmodified
Equilibrium Strategies (ES) to determine the possibilities of a mutual bilateral relationship.
Second, in explaining Japanese Studies’ influence, this study chooses ES based on an
ethical and developmental case analysis evaluation. Both nations may have to take a value-
oriented approach to the theory, linking it to the study and mobilising competencies based
on ethical ideals. Again, it is crucial to understand Japanese moral values, which can only
be provided through thorough research about Japan. On the other hand, both governments
can use analytical competencies based on technical-scientific knowledge to see the
influence of the Japanese Studies game through a critical lens.
Third, throughout this theory, countries’ visions change in response to input relating
to ES’s selection of particular social dynamics. To achieve steady and intentional
sustainable development, a complete picture, values, and analyses are necessary, and
‘winning the game’ also implies attaining mutual bilateral relations is the core of this theory.
Finally, the game structure and regulations, notably the country-to-pure-ES ratio,
impact all procedures for bilateral relations.
6.4.1 Implication of Japanese Strategies for Governance and Development in
Since 1972, the bilateral diplomatic relationship between Bangladesh and Japan has
strengthened through loans, grant aid and technical assistance. Japan’s prime focus on
Bangladesh’s development was poverty reduction. Japan has been assisting in establishing
more employment opportunities for the unprivileged people to reduce the rate of
unemployability which is interconnected to poverty reduction. Japan is also providing
skills development and technical training to less educated people. Japan is capitalising on
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its experience as a donor country to become Bangladesh’s largest provider of Official
Development Assistance (ODA). The current tendency in Japanese aid policy is
remarkable, emphasising the relevance of human capital over physical resources. Under
the new criteria, the Japanese government prioritises human capital investment in
Bangladesh, including education, health care, skills enhancement and numerous vocational
training programs (Alam et al., 2022b).
For the economic growth of Bangladesh, Japan has played a crucial role over the
years. Bangladesh has experienced rapid economic progress in recent years due to the aid
provided by the Japanese government in trade and business. Beginning in 1972, Japan has
been providing loans to Bangladesh and investing in various sectors, which is an essential
player in the country’s socio-economic development. As a significant ODA-receiving
country, the construction and development of many economic zones in Bangladesh, with
different titles such as Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Exclusive Economic Zones
(EEZs), can also be seen. These economic zones are expected to contribute to Bangladesh’s
economic progress in the future. Japan is also investing in several mega projects in
Bangladesh, ensuring sustainable development to achieve the 2041 goal of inclusive
growth. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a major Japanese organisation
contributing to Bangladesh’s development, is constantly involved in numerous
infrastructure projects to improve the quality of life in urban and rural areas. One of these
is the renovation of Jamuna Railway Bridge, widely known as Bangabandhu Bridge.
Another example is the reconstruction of the Dhaka-Chattogram highway.
Bangladesh benefits from this project because it connects its two major cities and several
business areas. Cox’s Bazar highway is another significant construction project and aims
to improve cargo delivery between Matarbari deep-sea port and Chattogram’s highly
populated districts.
Japan, through JICA, is also contributing to the Hazrat Shahjalal International
Airport expansion project, which would significantly boost Bangladesh in the future.
Another significant undertaking is the construction of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) in Dhaka.
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
This initiative, which aims to reduce traffic congestion and environmental pollution in
Dhaka, will surely improve the city’s environment and benefit the economy. Furthermore,
JICA is helping to develop Bangladesh’s food and agricultural sectors. Since Bangladesh’s
independence, Japanese agricultural experts have introduced over 40 types of rice and
numerous other goods such as broiler chicken, radish, improved varieties of broccoli and
watermelon, etc. JICA also brought modern agricultural instruments to rural Bangladesh,
significantly increasing productivity. Japanese agricultural models are now being
successfully replicated in Bangladesh. Japan is working closely with Bangladesh to ensure
good governance at every level. An innovative governance system with digital data centers
and remote services saves valuable Time, Cost and Visit (TCV). Transparency and
accountability are now more and more ensured because of these innovations. As a result,
citizens enjoy a better service delivery experience than ever before. Japan’s development
strategies are being adequately replicated at many levels of the governance system in
Bangladesh. There will be less corruption, and Bangladeshi people will face less
harassment in governmental institutions by ensuring a sound governance system. Therefore,
Bangladesh will move forward faster and undoubtedly flourish over time. Also, it will meet
SDG-16, which promotes peace and justice in inclusive institutions.
6.4.2 Implications of Japanese Studies for Technological Advancement
With Japan’s continued support, Bangladesh has developed its information communication
and technology sector. Globalisation has had a significant impact on assistance, as even
non-Japanese enterprises also require Japanese language professionals. Companies from
Bangladesh and worldwide with production or business facilities in Bangladesh were
among them. Japanologists might contribute a lot to Bangladesh’s technological
development by replicating Japan’s technological advancement and all of its successful
policies. Proper implementation of these policies will help trade and business with Japan
flourish, and Bangladesh will hugely benefit from receiving technical assistance from
Japan (Figure 6.4).
Md Jahangir Alam
Figure 6.4
Japanese Technical Cooperation Projects
Source: Created by the author
For a long time, Japan has provided Bangladesh with diverse technological
assistance, which has proved to be highly beneficial to the country’s overall development.
By adequately utilising such assistance, Bangladesh can improve its technological
advancement and shift into an era of digitisation for inclusive development. Therefore, it
will be fulfilling SDG-04 which promotes quality education, SDG-08 referring to decent
work and economic growth, and SDG-09, which is industry, innovation and infrastructure.
6.4.3 Implication of Japanese Studies to Enhance ODA for Development
Japan provides increasing Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Bangladesh through
grants, technical cooperation and loans. The lion’s share of Japanese ODA (in 2017) is
debt, followed by technical cooperation and grants (Table 6.2). Grants are primarily used
to expedite the process of human development, mitigation of climate change and
communication improvement. As for the technical cooperation projects, they are
predominantly designed for capacity-building purposes. Loans are mainly intended for
infrastructural development.
Skill Development of ICT Engineers Targeting Japanese Market
Strengthening Health Systems through Organizing Communities
Security Improvement of International Airports
National Integrity Strategy Support Project (Phase 2)
Promotion of Vocational Education for the Development of
Commercial Human Resource Management
Strengthening Crime Prevention Capacity of Bangladesh Police
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
Table 6.2
ODA-funded Projects in Bangladesh
ODA-funded Projects
Grants Project
Meteorological Radar System installation in Rangpur and Dhaka
Human Resources Development Scholarship (three-year cycle)
Technical Cooperation Project
ICT Engineers’ Proficiency Development for Japanese Industries
Strengthening Health Systems through Organizing Communities
Security Improvement of International Airports
National Integrity Strategy Support Project (Phase-2)
Enhancement of Vocational Education for the Development of Industrial Human Resources
Strengthening Crime Prevention Capacity of Bangladesh Police
ODA Loan
Project for the Development of Small-scale Water Supplies (Phase-2)
Dhaka Underground Substation Construction Project
Construction of Meghna-Kanchpur-Gumti 2nd Bridge as well as Rehabilitation of Old Bridges
Dhaka MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) Project
Power Project in Matarbari
Expansion of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport
Source: JICA (2019)
The Japanese ODA, in its three forms, is conceptually well-knit. The distribution
pattern in terms of the amount is balanced, serving the purpose of each state. Japanologists
are well endowed to act as a facilitator in maximising the impact of ODA. With their keen
knowledge of Japanese values, norms, customs and culture, Japanologists from Bangladesh
can be instrumental in advocating further expansion of ODA from the Japanese
government. As a developing country, Bangladesh needs technical assistance, loans and
grants for its development. Although Bangladesh is currently receiving assistance from
Japan with the help of Japanologists, these connections might improve and create a more
significant change in the country’s infrastructural and industrial development. Doing so
will contribute to SDG-08, which supports decent work and economic growth, and SDG-
09, for developing robust infrastructure, supporting inclusive and sustainable
industrialisation and encouraging innovation.
Md Jahangir Alam
6.4.4 Implications of Japanese Studies to Increase Trade with SAARC Countries
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) formally intends to
accelerate development through regional cooperation, multilateral by nature but does not
exclude bilateral cooperation. Each country in the SAARC has specific strengths and needs,
and each has its perspective and plans for development. From Japan’s perspective, SAARC
is a region with high and increasing potential endowed with a vast population comprising
about 24% of the world’s total population, which needs to be transformed into human
resources, and physical infrastructure development. Japan also considers SAARC as a
geopolitical and economic space of global significance and intends to promote peace and
prosperity in the region as part of the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ policy.
However, trade among SAARC countries has been relatively insignificant in recent
decades. Intra-regional trade among SAARC countries is less than 7% which is 27.4%
among ASEAN nations. One of the significant reasons for intra-regional trade
backwardness in SAARC is high trade costs (ESCAP, 2016). The vital issue here is that
underdeveloped transport infrastructure hinders smooth ‘cost-effective’ transportation of
goods and services among SAARC countries and from SAARC to other regions. As part
of Japan’s policy of ensuring a global environment that will benefit Japanese trade and
commerce, Japan emphasises free trade and trade promotion of SAARC countries. To
accelerate this process, Japan implements large-scale projects for improving transport
connectivity in the SAARC region. Furthermore, transport infrastructure projects and other
Japanese projects, including capacity-building ones, enhance the productivity of SAARC
countries, thereby improving the domestic economy and society. Therefore, a Japanologist
can rightly argue using the game theory, without ambiguity, that all these will benefit both
the individual SAARC countries and Japan, at least through market expansion.
The intra-regional export and import of merchandise products are very low among
SAARC countries compared to high-income countries. In 2017, Japan’s merchandise
export to high-income economies was 61.1%, and SAARC was only 2% of the total
merchandise exports. Japan’s merchandise import from SAARC countries in 2017 was
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
only 1.1% of the total import. SAARC countries’ merchandise import from Japan was only
4.7%. This export-import scenario is intimidating. However, adequate considerations must
be made because the actual GDP growth rates in SAARC countries are already high.
Considering that GDP growth rates for 2021 are projected to be high and stable at 3.5% for
Afghanistan, 7.3% for Bangladesh, 5.9% for Bhutan, 7.2% for India, 5.6% for the Maldives,
6.5% for Nepal, 3% for Pakistan and 3.7% for Sri Lanka, the SAARC region can be a
potentially large market for Japan’s export and import. The diffusion index in 2019 was
relatively as high as 60 for Bangladesh, 52.2 for India and 36.4 for Sri Lanka. The
expansion value of the approach to future business challenges also increased to 73.2% for
Bangladesh, 72.8% for India, 66.7% for Pakistan and 62.5% for Sri Lanka. Based on these
indices, a Japanologist may further argue that these attracted their business industries to
establish in these SAARC countries (ESCAP, 2016). As mentioned by the Japan External
Trade Organization (JETRO) in 2018, the critical reasons for business expansion will be
as follows: increased sales in native markets, substantial growth opportunities, increased
sales attributable to export growth, strategic client partnerships, reconsideration of
manufacturing and supply networks, efficiency improvements, deregulation and securing
labour force. The JETRO study also indicated that business expansion would be
accompanied by the proliferation of the following functions: sales function, production,
logistics, R&D, administrative function in providing services and the role of regional
Table 6.3
Merchandise Export and Import of SAARC Countries and Japan
Merchandise imports from (% of total
merchandise import)
Merchandise exports to (% of total
merchandise export)
Low- and middle-
income economies
Low- and middle-
income economies
Md Jahangir Alam
Sri Lanka
Source: WDI (2019)
SAARC countries’ trade with Japan is still low, with a relatively high import
dependency. Their total import from Japan in 2018 was almost three times higher than the
total export to Japan. The significant players in imports from Japan are India ($11 billion),
distantly followed by Pakistan ($2.1 billion), Bangladesh ($1.6 billion) and Sri Lanka ($1.3
billion). The two big exporters to Japan are India ($5.5 billion) and Bangladesh ($1.44
billion). Considering the bilateral and multilateral relations, there is ample scope to
enhance export and import between SAARC and Japan.
Table 6.4
Trade Scenario of Japan and SAARC Countries
Import from
Export to Japan
$59.8 Million
$1.6 Billion
$1.44 Billion
$8.9 Million
$11 Billion
$5.5 Billion
$25 Million
$52.5 Million
$2.1 Billion
$353 Million
Sri Lanka
$1.3 Billion
$273 Million
Source: Trading Economics (2018)
Given the Japan-SAARC relations, this might have the natural traits of
understanding and analysing the above process of strengthening bilateral and multilateral
ties to promote trade, investment and production. Japanese Studies, being multidisciplinary,
is supposed to accelerate the transaction process between stakeholders of SAARC and
Japan, manage the parties involved most appropriately and uphold the Japanese work
culture and multicultural environment among SAARC countries. Japanese Studies might
also contribute to adopting the Fourth Industrial Revolution in these countries by
introducing technological and industrial advancements and social changes. These
transformations might create a potential future trade hub in this region, which will also
benefit Japan. The importance of the Indo-Pacific region will be increased to a great extent.
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
Taking all these massive possibilities into account, Japanese Studies will help replicate and
implement Japan’s experiences, prolonging the ties between SAARC countries and Japan.
6.4.5 Improving Employability and Reducing Poverty
Studying and working abroad contributes to reducing poverty, especially in developing
countries like Bangladesh. Currently, 321 Japanese enterprises are operational in
Bangladesh, requiring vast human resources. Employers of these companies always
emphasise skilled graduates for job opportunities. Moreover, there is a considerable global
demand for experts, and many firms actively recruit students with an international learning
experience, especially if they are fluent in a second language. Suppose students choose to
return to their homelands after graduation. In that case, they can rest assured that their time
in Japan has already improved their potential to draw the attention of large companies,
particularly those operating worldwide. In Japan, people who continue their studies enjoy
a robust job market for skilled graduates. A recent survey found that about half of the large
Japanese companies wanted to employ immigrants who graduated from Japanese
universities. Japanese Studies possesses an outstanding potential to produce a workforce
for national and international placement. It will bring stability and reduce poverty among
graduates. This increase in employability and poverty reduction will contribute to
achieving SDG-01, which refers to ending poverty by all means, SDG-02, which promotes
zero hunger, and SDG-08, which promotes long-term economic growth and stable
employment work for all.
6.4.6 Providing Technical Training
Japanese Studies might meet the required human capital demand for many Japanese
companies. Various workshops and sessions regarding technical training and skills
development must be arranged to achieve sustainable employment opportunities. By
producing skilled human resources, Japanese Studies might contribute to attaining SDG-
08, which refers to decent work. The educated unemployment rate will also decrease. At
present, language skills and the ability to communicate fluently with clients, other
Md Jahangir Alam
necessary soft skills and hard skills, career-oriented thinking capabilities and many more
traits are taught to the students of this discipline. Moreover, having a strong connection
with many Japanese organisations, this discipline might provide the opportunity to work
and learn closely with Japanese professionals. These opportunities will help promote SDG-
04 for quality education and SDG-08 for championing decent work and economic growth.
6.4.7 High Educational Standards
Japanese Studies might contribute to the higher education sector in Bangladesh, as it covers
a broad spectrum of area studies. Japanese Studies is equipped with diverse knowledge
ranging from history, culture, international affairs, politics, diplomacy, Japanese language
and many more. By pursuing this degree, each graduate will undoubtedly act as a
‘Japanologist,’ thus contributing to many fields. Moreover, due to different influencing
forces, the global economic, political, social and cultural situations are constantly redefined.
It brings up new study options necessary to comprehend these shifts and their repercussions.
It means that universities offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees now need to
focus more on the profound aspects of language, literature, linguistics and pedagogy. In
this perspective, Japanese Studies is already one step ahead of many other subjects. At the
same time, students are also provided with a solid basis for research in many areas, which
will help Japanese Studies maintain global education standards. It also fulfils SDG-04
(quality education), thus contributing to higher education in Bangladesh.
6.4.8 Global Opportunity for Japanese Studies Graduates
Japanese Studies offers its students a wide range of career opportunities, including research,
corporate fields, civil services such as diplomatic jobs, interpreter jobs and plenty of others.
Japanese Studies provides students with a clear understanding of the Japanese language,
culture and other aspects, enabling them to become specialists in Japan-related matters.
The number of Japanese companies globally is enormous, which is an excellent opportunity
for students. Japanese companies and organisations offer very decent salaries, which will
be lucrative for newly graduated students. They also contribute to working overseas, letting
their employees explore and enjoy their careers. Nowadays, most Japanese companies and
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
organisations want employees with good Japanese language and cultural proficiency. The
students of Japanese Studies will have a clear priority in this regard. Thus, SDG-08 will be
achieved, referring to decent work opportunities for Bangladeshis.
‘Good Japanologists may become successful flag-bearers as academicians,
researchers and practitioners in any social sciences and humanities discipline due to their
in-depth multidisciplinary knowledge of Japanese Studies and a deep interest in
multidimensional developmental fronts (Barkat, 2022). Theoretically speaking, there is no
reason to think about the future of a Japanologist from a narrow vision. Instead, there is
every reason to broaden the vision. It is equally valid that a Japanologist might assist in
continuously strengthening relations between Japan and Bangladesh irrespective of their
professional or occupational identity.
Considering the globalisation of Japanese Studies research, which is at the core of
research diversification, the field of study is expanding to attract much international
attention. The globalisation of Japanese Studies offers an excellent opportunity to expand
the domain of the study. However, there is some concern that prominent academics can
cluster in a single institution in a single country, leading to brain drain and increasing gaps
among research centers. With this end in view, Japanese Studies researches as a worldwide
asset and develops cooperation networks, including the exchange of research data and
international collaboration, to encourage future researchers (Ogawa, n.d.). It will also
contribute to SDG-04, which promotes quality education and SDG-17, which refers to
partnership for achieving sustainable goals.
6.5 An Incentive for Development: A Critical Perspective of SDGs in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is strategically vital as a crossroads for India and ASEAN countries. The
country’s economy is growing at roughly 7.2% to its strong textile and RMG exports.
Having a population of more than 160 million, it possesses an ample supply of low-cost,
high-quality labour. It also possesses a relatively high market potential, attracting many
other countries to invest here. The number of Japanese-affiliated companies has increased
Md Jahangir Alam
from 61 in 2005 to 321 in 2021. Moreover, the ‘Japan-Bangladesh Comprehensive
Partnership’ is a formidable step toward instituting solid bilateral relationships and
cooperation in regional and international affairs. This relationship contributes significantly
to solving many socio-economic problems faced by Bangladesh, reflecting the Japanese
assistance in the development process of various sectors of Bangladesh (Figure 5).
The aim of strengthening Japan-Bangladesh relations is to accelerate sustainable
development. Traditionally, economists are tempted to see such development in increased
GDP and high economic growth rates. A Japanologist should be able to refrain from this
traditional point of view on development in the following manners:
a) Development is not merely an economic phenomenon but a multilayered process that
involves reorganising and reorienting the whole economic and social framework
through bilateral relations.
b) Development is about enhancing human livelihoods, not just the economy.
c) Development is the process of ensuring human independence. Independence is the
primary objective of development and is also the dominant origin of development.
Development means enhancing independence, enabling individuals to believe they
have enough reasons to live.
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
Figure 6.5
Japanese Assistance in Bangladesh’s Development
Source: Created by the author
It is important to note that understanding just demand and supply factors may not
be adequate to understand the full potential of the Japan-Bangladesh relationship. Japan is
experiencing a stagnant economy amidst various macroeconomic challenges, including
decreasing labour force due to the negative population growth rate. On the other hand,
Bangladesh possesses a vast population and a manufacturing base with ample high-quality
labour at a low cost, which Japan can offer to create a mutual-symbiotic relationship
between the two countries. Bangladesh is trying to achieve SDGs within the targeted time
frame. However, Bangladesh cannot achieve them alone, and Tokyo always assists Dhaka
in attaining these goals. Among these goals, zero poverty, zero hunger, clean water and
Productive Investment,
Infrastructure Industry
Science and Technology
Cultural Development
Manpower/Skilled or Semi-Skilled
Agro-products, Raw Materials
Power, Energy
Md Jahangir Alam
sanitation, and economic growth are the notable ones that Japan is constantly supporting
Bangladesh to achieve. Bangladesh can emerge as a vital player in the global geopolitical
arena in achieving SDGs.
6.6 A New Model of Bangladesh’s Development Process and Challenges
The game theory strategy determines an agent’s ability to make decisions throughout
challenges for development. Social science researchers have used the theory to understand
rational behaviour to improve bilateral relations among nations. This hypothesis bears a
significant influence on a country’s economic development. Using game theory in
Bangladesh’s growth is translated for further development (Bhuiyan, 2016). Developing
an effective strategy with the supposition of partners’ plans and actions is the purpose of
the game theory. This theory enables the developer to predict the activities of strength and
weakness. The standard form of game theory models portrays adverse interactions between
development businesses, whereas the characteristic function form describes cooperative
relationships between developments such as resource, integration and assimilation
(Kurakova & Khomyak, 2016). Basic optimisation and game theory models establish the
search pathways in the domain of development, which is critical for Bangladesh. In light
of the game theory concept, it can be said that Japan’s help for development will not just
benefit Bangladesh; it will also become an essential economic destination for Japan.
Because of Japan’s unstable relationship with the eastern part of Asia, the Japanese
financial ties get shaky from time to time, impacting their economy gravely. With the
investments in Bangladesh and other parts of the South Asian region, Japan will be able to
strengthen its economy and become more powerful regionally and globally.
Translating the Japanese strategy for Bangladesh might be challenging considering
the socio-economic status and the government approach. Time management seems to be a
big challenge for Japanese Studies students in Bangladesh. The Japanese people culturally
emphasise this quality, and Bangladeshi students are still not accustomed to it. Japanese
ethics and etiquette are also barriers for students due to cultural differences. Japanese
customs and ethics barriers aside, students’ language barrier is another major problem.
Significance of Japanese Studies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh
Many aspiring Japanologists face difficulty mastering the Japanese language, and as a
result, they don’t accumulate enough knowledge about Japanese culture and society. So,
the students do not connect with Japanese people appropriately because they do not
understand Japanese ethics and manners, keeping the cultural divide apparent.
Moreover, the business environment in Japan is also considerably different from
that in Bangladesh, making it difficult for Bangladeshi graduates to get jobs in Japanese
firms because of their language barriers. Even though a few hundred Japanese companies
operate in Bangladesh and thousands in other countries, few get their desired jobs because
of language and cultural barriers despite numerous job opportunities. Understanding and
speaking Japanese fluently is necessary to understand Japan and be a perfect Japanologist.
In addition, Japanese Studies observes a subtle influence of ‘Japanese hegemony’
in how students from ‘inferior’ nations to Japan, such as South Asian countries, view Japan.
Countries with a Japanese Studies program often face difficulties gaining a neutral mindset
in their academics due to strategic relations between Japan and their respective countries,
Japan’s economic power and young people’s enthusiasm for Japanese pop culture. In
Bangladesh’s case, it may not be very different. Dependency on Japan’s economic and
strategic support or preference for their culture can lead to difficulties conducting a neutral
case study on Japan. These factors can impede scholars from optimising the Japan-
Bangladesh relationship from Bangladesh. Therefore, maintaining a balance while
conducting an impartial investigation seems critical.
6.7 Conclusion
Japanese Studies has shifted its focus from Japan’s uniqueness toward critical thinking
about Japan as a response to adopting the Bangladesh perspective. Japanese Studies
employs significant time and effort to discover Japan’s unique features. Japanese
traditional culture and management style are presently being explored more than ever. As
a result of this approach, there has been discoursing about the value of Japanese Studies in
Bangladesh. Japan has a considerable influence on the development of Bangladesh because
Md Jahangir Alam
of its ever-friendly attitude and remarkable industrial strength. The growing popularity of
understanding Japanese popular culture makes perfect sense in this context. The exchange
of ideas and information between Japan and Bangladesh might impact the two countries’
current socio-cultural and political relations by cementing the bilateral relationship.
Japanese Studies in Bangladesh has been reinterpreted in a new light by setting it in the
context of Japan’s relationship with Bangladesh, with positive outcomes. As part of
defining what constitutes ‘Japanese Studies’ in this context, Bangladesh is tempted to take
the initiative and contribute. Such a uniquely Japanese approach may also extend Japan’s
continuous effort to maintain a cordial relationship with Bangladesh. Finally, translating
the development strategy of Japan might contribute to the socio-economic development
and attainment of the SDGs.
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and game theory. Perspectives in Science, 2(1-4), 22–
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positions: east asia cultures critique 7.2 (1999) 593-647 Naoki Sakai: For the last decade or so we have seen an increasingly conservative trend in the humanities, not only in Western European but also in North American academia and journalism. Already by the 1970s some intellectuals began to note the emergence of a certain conservatism in places such as Britain and France. As you are aware, we could not appreciate the birth of British cultural studies without taking into consideration the fact that it was an attempt to analyze and denounce this general conservative climate, which today seems to permeate American higher education, too. Typically, the fields of Asian studies, particularly Japan studies, seem to follow this trend, although I do not think the fields of Asian studies have ever been at all responsive or perceptive to new theoretical investigation. Primarily, this conservative impulse manifests itself in the form of the rejection of theory. In the Japanese studies field that, generally speaking, could neither appropriate nor refute new theoretical frameworks -- sometimes characterized as critical theory, poststructuralism, or postmodernism -- until recently, the hostility to theory has been so intense that, it seems, some have not hesitated to appeal to various means of institutional violence to insulate their territories from the infection of theories. Today I am sitting in a room in Manhattan, in a building belonging to New York University, with Professor Harry Harootunian. We are here to discuss what some Japanologists in the United States have characterized as a crisis in Japan studies. Perhaps we should start our dialogue by diagnosing the status of area studies in American higher education, as well as the equivalent of area studies in Japan. Let me begin by asking Harry about this crisis of Japanese studies in the United States. Harry Harootunian: I've always felt that we can't talk about the operation of Japan studies as an academic activity in the United States without associating it with the structure of area studies as it was established in American universities after World War II. We've been reminded of the almost hegemonic importance of this structure that we call "area studies" recently by a number of revelations that have appeared in national newspapers, calling attention to how certain universities have recruited money or taken money from foreign governments. We have the recent episode at Princeton University of Middle East studies taking large grants from the Turkish government and then turning around and actually hiring a professor who has long been noted for having doubted the existence of the Armenian genocide of 1915. And more recently, the case of the University of California at Berkeley receiving, or waiting to receive, a large grant from the Jiang Jingguo Foundation for Chinese Studies with the proviso that the institute, or the library or some such building, be named after Jiang Jingguo himself. And we can find other examples of this in recent years in South Asian studies, where conservative Hindu organizations have given money for Sanskritic studies. The pioneer was the Japan Foundation, which has given a great deal of money for Japanese studies in the United States and elsewhere. Yet we must recognize that these are not academic organizations. They represent their states and the corresponding points of view that they wish to get across. And the funding of area studies in the United States is always dependent upon the capacity of a particular group to get money from outside of the university. As a result of this history, there was forged a fundamental and ironclad relationship between American universities and the implementation and development of area studies such as Japan studies or China studies or Korean studies. Support for these various programs has now passed to national governments like those of Japan, Korea, and the Republic of China. You cannot give money without expecting something in return, even though often what's expected is not articulated or expressed. This practice has, I believe, essentially stained and marked the character of area studies in American universities. What I mean is that it has marked the ceaseless quest for money as the primary concern of...
"This is the classic work upon which modern-day game theory is based. What began more than sixty years ago as a modest proposal that a mathematician and an economist write a short paper together blossomed, in 1944, when Princeton University Press published Theory of Games and Economic Behavior. In it, John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern conceived a groundbreaking mathematical theory of economic and social organization, based on a theory of games of strategy. Not only would this revolutionize economics, but the entirely new field of scientific inquiry it yielded--game theory--has since been widely used to analyze a host of real-world phenomena from arms races to optimal policy choices of presidential candidates, from vaccination policy to major league baseball salary negotiations. And it is today established throughout both the social sciences and a wide range of other sciences. This sixtieth anniversary edition includes not only the original text but also an introduction by Harold Kuhn, an afterword by Ariel Rubinstein, and reviews and articles on the book that appeared at the time of its original publication in the New York Times, tthe American Economic Review, and a variety of other publications. Together, these writings provide readers a matchless opportunity to more fully appreciate a work whose influence will yet resound for generations to come.
Book Review of New Frontiers in Japanese Studies
  • M J Alam
Alam, M. J. (2022b). [Book Review of New Frontiers in Japanese Studies, A. Ogawa and P. Seaton (Eds.)], Journal of Japanese Studies: Exploring Multidisciplinarity, 1(1), 588-591.