Colombo, July 29 (PMD): Foreign Minister of Japan Hon. HAYASHI Yoshimasa paid a courtesy call on President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo today (29). During the meeting, the two dignitaries engaged in discussions concerning the bilateral relationship between Japan and Sri Lanka, with a mutual commitment to further strengthen their traditionally robust ties. President Wickremesinghe expressed his gratitude to the Japanese Government for their support in the debt restructuring process and shared details of French President Emmanuel Macron’s offer, aiming to play a pivotal role in enhancing the common platform for debt restructuring and expediting the process.
Another significant aspect of their talks revolved around key areas of cooperation, namely the Light Rail Transit (LRT), the East Terminal, the Kandy Development Plan, Central Highway, and the expansion of the Bandaranaike International Airport. Both parties expressed the importance of expediting the implementation of these projects.
Additionally, they delved into bilateral, regional, and global issues, emphasizing their shared commitment to maintaining the region as a peaceful and stable area. President Wickremesinghe also highlighted the investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s high-tech industries, envisioning a transformation from a labour market-oriented economy to one that caters to cutting-edge technological advancements. This strategic move is expected to present significant prospects for Japanese investors.
The visiting Minister, Hon. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, arrived in Sri Lanka on July 28th for a two-day official visit. During his stay, he will engage in discussions on bilateral relations with President Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and his Sri Lankan counterpart, Minister Ali Sabry.
Accompanying Hon. HAYASHI Yoshimasa for these discussions were esteemed Japanese officials, including Murakami Manabu, the Senior Foreign Policy Coordinator; Arima Yutaka, the Director General of Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs; Endo Kazuya, the Director General of International Cooperation; and Okano Yukiko, the Deputy Press Secretary from the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Additionally, present at the talks were HE Hideaki Mizukoshi, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka, Mr Tomosaburo Esaki, Executive
Assistant to the Minister, Mr Taro Tsutsumi, Director of the Southwest Asian Affairs Division, and a delegation of Japanese Foreign Ministry officials.
The Sri Lankan delegation included Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Ali Sabry, the Senior Advisor to the President on National security and Chief of Staff Mr Sagala Ratnayaka, Foreign Secretary Ms Aruni Wijewardane, Economic Advisor to the President Dr R.H.S. Samaratunge.
Foreign Minister Ali Sabry’s speech
My friend Minister HAYASHI,
Konnichiwa, Ayubowan and Welcome to Sri Lanka,
Friends from the media,
It is an honour and a great pleasure for us to welcome Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa, who arrived on an official visit to Sri Lanka yesterday. Hon. HAYASHI leads a high-level delegation which consists of a number of senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and other officials. This demonstrates the importance Sri Lanka and Japan attach to the excellent relations with each other.
This morning, Hon. HAYASHI called on His Excellency President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and will meet with Hon. Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena later today. A little while ago, Minister HAYASHI and I have had the opportunity to hold detailed bilateral discussions on a broad range of matters.
The deep-rooted friendship between Japan and Sri Lanka has been further consolidated through the recent exchange of high-level visits. H.E. President Wickremesinghe visited Japan on two occasions in the recent past and held fruitful discussions with Prime Minister FUMIO Kishida and also had the privilege of an audience with His Majesty, the Emperor.
We also had the pleasure of welcoming Hon. TAKEI Shunsuke, State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan in February 2023 for the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Independence of Sri Lanka.
Minister HAYASHI and I were pleased to recall the several events that we held in order to commemorate 70 years of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Japan last year.
Friends from the media,
Sri Lanka is deeply appreciative for the solidarity and the significant assistance Japan has extended to Sri Lanka in the past year, when the country was going through the unprecedented economic crisis. We remain grateful to Japan for the unwavering support and grant assistance extended to Sri Lanka during these challenging times, as well as for Japan’s confidence in Sri Lanka.
As you all are aware, during Sri Lanka’s recent negotiations with the IMF, Japan played an important supportive role in the successful outcome of the discussions with the IMF and subsequently in facilitating the unique donor platform for our debt restructuring negotiations.
On taking forward our bilateral cooperation, a number of important initiatives were discussed in the presence of His Excellency the President this morning, as well as during our bilateral discussions. Japan is a trusted partner, and with clear indicators of Sri Lanka’s gradual economic recovery, both the President and I invited Japan to resume the Japanese investment projects which are currently in the pipeline and invited fresh investments from Japan in several sectors such as power, infrastructure including port and highways sectors, dedicated investment zones as well as in green and digital economy. Japan’s Official Development Assistance extended to Sri Lanka through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as one of Sri Lanka’s key development partners was also highlighted.
The Sri Lanka side also outlined to the Japanese delegation the highest priority that Sri Lanka is placing on economic recovery and sustainable growth including adequate support measures for the vulnerable segments of our society. I also briefed Minister HAYASHI on the recent measures to enhance national reconciliation and unity for all segments of our people in all parts of the country including the recent proposals put forward by HE the President on power sharing under the 13th amendment. Japan has encouraged Sri Lanka in our efforts.
In our continuing discussions this afternoon Japan and Sri Lanka will share views on several global issues including pandemic recovery, ensuring food security, a just and equitable solution to the global debt crisis, addressing climate change and facilitating transition into renewable energy, and matters related to global security such as non-proliferation and disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. Japan positively acknowledged the important contribution to promoting global security made by Sri Lanka recently in ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. On regional matters, we will also discuss with Minister HAYASHI about Sri Lanka’s upcoming Chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, and our commitment to promote peace, security, safety and cooperation in the Indian Ocean Rim region for the prosperity of all States, within the framework of international law.
Our cordial relations have deepened in the area of people-to-people links. This includes openings in new sectors where Sri Lanka can be a source of the skilled manpower requirements of the Japanese economy, while strengthening existing tourism and education cooperation. We are confident that Sri Lanka’s economic recovery which has made a promising start, and future growth prospects provide us with greater opportunities to enhance the Japan-Sri Lanka relationship in all aspects.
Hon. HAYASHI, I take this opportunity to thank you, and your delegation once again for visiting Sri Lanka and for all the support and goodwill that Japan continues to extend to my country.