ISLAMABAD  -   Pakistan aims to bolster ties with Japan as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi prepares to fly to Tokyo tomorrow on a four-day visit.

The top diplomat has been invited by Taro Kono, Foreign Minister of Japan.

“During the visit, the Foreign Minister is scheduled to hold wide-ranging talks with his Japanese counterpart and other dignitaries,” said a foreign ministry statement.

The Foreign Minister’s visit to Japan is part of high-level exchanges between the two countries, which have acquired a new momentum recently, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said.

“Apart from interacting with the Pakistani community and leading media houses in Japan, the Foreign Minister will also interact with Japanese intellectuals, academicians and business persons at the Japan Institute of International Affairs,” he said.

Faisal said Pakistan and Japan enjoyed a longstanding, friendly and cooperative relationship. “The Foreign Minister’s visit will help further deepen our friendly ties and advance mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries in diverse fields,” he added.

Since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the two countries enjoyed cordial and friendly relations. At the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference, Pakistan is the only major country invited from South Asia - as China was not invited, and India and Burma stayed away from the Conference for their own reasons.

At the conference, Pakistan delegation led by Foreign Minister Sir Zafarullah Khan strongly argued for treating Japan with respect. Sir Zafarullah Khan made a historical speech noting that “The peace with Japan should be a premised on justice and reconciliation, not on vengeance and oppression. In future Japan would play an important role as a result of the series of reforms initiated in the political and social structure of Japan which hold out a bright promise of progress and which qualify Japan to take place as an equal in the fellowship of peace loving nations”.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations on April 28, 1952, Pakistan-Japan relations have steadily progressed. Soon after the San Francisco Peace Conference, Pakistan was one of the very few countries which opened their commercial office in Japan. Similarly, Japan opened one of its earliest trade offices in Karachi.

In 1952, Pakistan opened its Embassy in Tokyo. Mian Ziauddin became the first Ambassador of Pakistan to Japan. In early 50’s Pakistan was a major import destination for raw cotton for Japan. During the Korean War and in the Cold War, Pakistan and Japan found themselves on the same side of the divide. President Ayub Khan visited Japan in 1960. That was followed by Prime Minister Ike’s visit to Pakistan in 1961.

During the latter’s visit, agreement to start two projects on Yen Credits and Transferring Students were concluded. Accordingly, 80 Pakistani students were transferred to Japan, mainly to Chiba University where they acquired Japanese language training and technology skills. YEN Credits was established to deepen trading and economic relationship.