The 66th Anniversary of the Independence of Sri Lanka was held on Tuesday, 4th February 2014 at the Reiyukai Hall in Tokyo. The event which was organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tokyo was held amidst a large gathering of Sri Lankan expatriates in Japan.
The Independence Day celebrations took place in Tokyo with religious observances made by Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian clergy, the reading of Independence Day messages of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President, Hon. Dr.D.M. Jayaratne, Prime Minister and Hon. G.L.Peiris, Minister of External Affairs. A special cultural dance performance was performed by a 3-member dance troupe comprising Sri Lankan students in Japan.
In addressing the gathering, His Excellency Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Japan stated that the longstanding relations between Japan and Sri Lanka will further continue to grow stronger in the coming years. He also stressed that although the two countries had commemorated 60 years of Diplomatic ties in 2012, our relations and strong ties date back many centuries to the time of the first envoys both from Japan, Rev. ShakuKozen in 1887 and from Sri Lanka, Col.Sir Henry Steel Olcott in 1889 who extended visits to each other’s countries to expand ties in Buddhism.
Ambassador Admiral Karannagoda also highlighted the growing economic ties between the two countries with the first milestone in 1972 being the establishment of a joint venture between Noritake of Japan and the Ceylon Ceramics Corporation. Since then, Japanese Investment has contributed immeasurably to the country’s economic development, particularly in electronics, ceramics, engineering and metal based sectors.The Ambassador stated that total Japanese investments to Sri Lanka for the past 3 years is USD 560million.
As a result of the effective tourism promotional work by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Japan, the number of Japanese tourists visiting Sri Lanka has risen to 31,505 which is a 21% increase in comparison to 2012. He also stated that the Tourism Resources Improvement Project (TRIP) which commenced in 2011 with loan assistance from JICA is currently progressing in Japan under the stewardship of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tokyo in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the ADEX advertising agency in Japan.
Ambassador Admiral Karannagoda commended the role played by the Sri Lankan community in Japan stating that it is their contribution in different spheres that has currently made Sri Lanka an attractive destination in Japan, in terms of travel and investment.
The participants at the Independence Day celebrations participated in a breakfast reception which included traditional milk rice and Sri Lankan sweet-meats.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
5th February 2014