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Sri Lanka’s geostrategic location important to Japan

2018-03-12 00:09:17
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A leading Japanese academic Prof. Narushige Michishita, in an interview with the Daily Mirror, spoke about the relationship between Japan and Sri Lanka. Prof. Michishita, who is Director of the Security and International Studies Programme of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, said that Japan greatly values its relations with Sri Lanka.   
Excerpts: 

 

How does Japan view its relations with Sri Lanka?

Japan and Sri Lanka have enjoyed a 66 year friendly relationship since 1952. The supporting speech at the San Francisco peace conference in 1951 by then foreign minister J.R Jayewardene paved the way for the beginning of this friendship and cooperation. Japan valued its relationship with Sri Lanka by providing socio-economic, infrastructure and human resource development assistance and technical assistance during the past five decades, and it continues to do so even today.   
Moreover, Sri Lanka is an important trade partner where the trade volume is more than $1 billion per year.

 

"Sri Lanka lies near sea lanes in the Indian Ocean that are crucial to Japan’s economy. ..has enormous potential as a maritime nation in the Indian Ocean. Free and open seas with uninterrupted maritime trade based on the rule of law are the key to economic prosperity..."

 

This bilateral relationship has been further strengthened with the recently signed five-year joint comprehensive partnership agreement between the two countries based on five pillars; promotion of investment and trade, cooperation on Sri Lanka’s National Development Plan, national reconciliation and peace building, political consultations and maritime cooperation, human resource development and people-to-people exchanges based on inclusiveness and sustainability. Furthermore, Sri Lanka is considered as an important partner in the free and open Indo-Pacific strategy in which Japan considers the Indo-Pacific region as the centre of the vitality of the world in its efforts to promote peace and prosperity. Japan considers its relations with Sri Lanka as very important and central in its foreign policy.   

 

  • Investing in Colombo and Trincomalee is part of Japan’s plan to promote peace and co-operation

  • Sri Lanka is an important trade partner where the trade volume is more than $1 billion per year

  • Bilateral relations have been further strengthened with the  recently signed five-year joint comprehensive partnership agreement  between the two countries 

  • Sri Lanka is considered as an important partner in the free and open Indo-Pacific strategy

  • Sri Lanka’s geostrategic location is important to Japan as well as the whole Indo-Pacific region.


How closely does Japan observe geopolitical developments in Sri Lanka? 

Sri Lanka’s geostrategic location is important to Japan as well as the whole Indo-Pacific region. It is in Japan’s interest to see a peaceful region that is conducive to uninterrupted international trade.   

 

"Geostrategic location is important to Japan as well as the whole Indo-Pacific region. It is in Japan’s interest to see a peaceful region that is conducive to uninterrupted international trade. "

 


Japan has shown interest in the development of a port in Sri Lanka’s eastern town called Trincomalee. How important is this for you in a geopolitical point of view?

Under the vision of free and open Indo-Pacific region, Japan’s concept is to develop free and open maritime order in the Indo-Pacific region as an international public good. The Geostrategic location of Sri Lanka and its proximity to the major sea lines of communication which connect East and West is vital for the Indo-Pacific region. Hence, investing in Colombo and Trincomalee ports is one part of Japanese Government’s plan to promote peace and cooperation.  

 

"The supporting speech at the San Francisco peace conference in 1951 by then foreign minister J.R Jayewardene paved the way for the beginning of this friendship and cooperation. Japan valued its relationship with Sri Lanka providing assistance ...."


What are the new facets of Japan-Sri Lanka relations?

As mentioned earlier Japan-Sri Lanka relations are consistently and steadily progressing and the joint comprehensive partnership agreement is the pinnacle of this partnership. Japan and Sri Lanka have been working under an agreed plan on the promotion of investment and trade, cooperation on Sri Lanka’s National Development Plan, national reconciliation and peace building, political consultations and maritime cooperation, human resource development and people-to-people exchanges with continual progress monitoring since 2015. Sri Lanka will set up a secretariat in Colombo to work on the joint partnership agreement this year. Moreover, Japan and Sri Lanka are working on strengthening bilateral maritime, security and defence cooperation.   


How can Sri Lanka make use of its strategic positioning for its economic advantage?

Sri Lanka lies near sea lanes in the Indian Ocean that are crucial to Japan’s economy. Also Sri Lanka has enormous potential as a maritime nation in the Indian Ocean. Free and open seas with uninterrupted maritime trade based on the rule of law are the key to economic prosperity not only for Sri Lanka, but also for the entire Indo-Pacificregion.   

 

"Sri Lanka will set up a secretariat in Colombo to work on the joint partnership agreement this year.  Japan and Sri Lanka are working on strengthening bilateral maritime, security and defence cooperation. "

 


Japan sought assistance from Sri Lanka in the implementation of UN sanctions against North Korea. How important is Sri Lanka in this issue?

International sanctions can’t be effectively implemented unless all UN members are genuinely committed to them. Sri Lanka and Japan share the same values such as democracy and international rule and law. Sri Lanka as a responsible nation continuously affirms its commitment to nuclear disarmament, nuclear non- proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy. In addition, as a maritime nation, Sri Lanka connects maritime routes from west and east. Therefore, Sri Lanka’s role in implementing UN sanction is important.   


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