Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera undertook a visit to Japan from 17 to 20 June 2015 on the invitation of his Japanese counterpart, Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida. The visit, which was the first official visit undertaken by an emissary of the new Government to Japan, focussed on further consolidating the close and friendly relations between the two countries for mutual benefit.
The discussions between the two Foreign Ministers ranged from bilateral political and economic relations, to cooperation in the multilateral fora. The two sides referred to the excellent relations between the two countries built on a solid foundation of historical and religious ties, as well as mutual understanding and friendship.
Appreciating the goodwill demonstrated by Japan towards the new Government, led by President Sirisena, and its mandate to usher in a new era of good governance, the rule of law and comprehensive national reconciliation, Minister Samaraweera briefed his counterpart as well as other interlocutors on the Government's achievements related to the '100-day Reform Programme', inclusive of establishing strong democratic institutions and adopting important constitutional reforms. Minister Samaraweera conveyed the intention of President Maithripala Sirisena to avail of the invitation extended by Prime Minister Abe to visit Japan at a mutually convenient time in the future, which was welcomed by Minister Kishida.
Minister Samaraweera briefed Minister Kishida in detail on the action taken by the new Government to achieve genuine national reconciliation among all communities through the implementation of a credible domestic mechanism. He emphasized the Government’s commitment to building a nation where diversity, openness, tolerance, and acceptance of differences are cherished and celebrated. Minister Kishida reiterated the continued support of the Japanese Government to the ongoing process of peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
The two sides welcomed the agreement to hold bilateral political consultations between the two Foreign Ministries at senior official level. Minister Samaraweera expressed the Government’s deep appreciation to Japan for the Official Development Assistance (ODA) extended continuously to Sri Lanka for over 60 years, which has contributed significantly to the socio-economic advancement of the country. The Exchange of Notes under the 45th Yen Loan Package for the National Transmission and Distribution Network Development and Efficiency Improvement Project to the value of USD 200 million, as well as Non-Project Grant Aid for the provision of Japanese local products/equipment to develop the railway network and agricultural facilities to the value of USD 5 million, were signed by the two Foreign Ministers during the visit.
As follow up to the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on Vitalization of Inter-Governmental Economic Policy Dialogue inked during the official visit of Prime Minister Abe with a view to expanding bilateral trade, investment and economic engagement between the two countries, Sri Lanka welcomed the decision to convene the first Meeting under the ‘Intergovernmental Economic Policy Dialogue’ in a timely manner. Sri Lanka expressed the hope that this would be instrumental in further expanding the scope of bilateral economic relations.
Informing that the new Government is in the process of making the investment climate more favorable by creating a rule based system, ensuring transparency and good governance, Foreign Minister Samaraweera encouraged more Japanese investment in Sri Lanka. He invited Japanese entrepreneurs and corporates to look at Sri Lanka as a manufacturing and services hub, as it has become a competitive investment destination for investors looking to expand into the vast Indian subcontinent.
Considering that Sri Lanka and Japan are two maritime nations in Asia, the two Ministers agreed to continue cooperation in the maritime sphere, including that of maritime education, capacity building and training, cooperation between coastguard, as well as disaster risk reduction.
On the invitation of Minister Kishida, Minister Samaraweera also delivered a speech on peacebuilding, and national reconciliation based on the Sri Lankan experience, at the ‘High-Level Seminar on Peacebuilding. National Reconciliation and Democratization in Asia’ organised by the Japanese Government and held in Tokyo on 20 June. The Key Note Address of the Seminar was delivered by Foreign Minister Kishida. The Seminar was attended by leaders and dignitaries from Asia, as well as distinguished members of the academia, civil society and the UN.
During the visit, Minister Samaraweera paid a call on the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe.
The Foreign Minister also met with the former Prime Minister of Japan and former President of the Japan Sri Lanka Association, Yasuo Fukuda; the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication, Sanae Takaichi; the President and Senior Members of the Japan-Sri Lanka Parliamentary League led by Masahiko Komura; the Representative of the Government of Japan on Peace-building, Rehabilitation, and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka, Ambassador Yasushi Akashi; the Expert nominated by Japan to the Advisory Council of the Presidential Commission to Investigate Complaints Regarding Missing Persons in Sri Lanka, Motoo Noguchi; the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Dr. Akihiko Tanaka; the Chairman of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Hiroyuki Ishige; and addressed the media at the prestigious Japan National Press Club in Tokyo.
The Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Japan, Saj Mendis; Additional Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office, Saman Athaudahetti; and Director General of East Asia & Pacific Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Manisha Gunasekera were associated with the Minister during his meetings.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
20 June 2015